Back in December the Marlins were hoping a physical therapist could help Javier Vazquez rediscover his fastball velocity after they signed the veteran right-hander to a one-year, $7 million deal.
Normally moving from the AL and hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium to the NL and Florida’s pitcher-friendly ballpark would have made Vazquez a strong bounceback candidate, but as I wrote at the time 35-year-old pitchers coming off a season in which they had a 5.32 ERA and averaged 88.7 miles per hour with their fastball aren’t great bets for much of anything.
Sure enough Vazquez has struggled and after an ugly start against the Phillies last night he has a 6.88 ERA and .312 opponents’ batting average through seven outings. Even more worrisome than the bloated ERA is Vazquez’s terrible 16/22 K/BB ratio, which includes zero strikeouts versus Philadelphia.
Vazquez’s fastball has declined even further, clocking in at an average of 88.2 miles per hour, and after last night’s loss he was very frustrated when speaking to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald:
I wish I had an explanation, but I’ve got nothing. Just frustrating. I’m embarrassed the way I’m throwing. Things aren’t happening right now for me. Nothing’s going right, so we’ve just got to keep working hard, battling, and hopefully I’ll get through this. If not, then I’ll be in trouble.
If you take Vazquez’s seven starts out of the mix the rest of the Marlins’ rotation is 10-3 with a 3.15 ERA.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.