As recent as Friday afternoon, and prior to the game on Saturday, his start was being touted as the most important of the season for him. “I think [this start] is very important for Javi, but I think it’s more important for us, the Florida Marlins,’’ manager Edwin Rodriguez said Friday.
Javier Vazquez has not, as of yet, delivered on the $7M contract he inked this past offseason. He is 2-4 with a 7.55 ERA and has been prone to giving up the long ball and also starting games off in the hole. The problem? According to pitching coach Randy St. Claire, it has been trying to be perfect. “He needs to be aggressive with secondary pitches. He’s trying to be perfect with those secondary pitches.’’
Well, yesterday he got it right. He pitched 7 shutout innings for only his 2nd quality start of the season. He limited the in-state rival Rays to only three hits and two walks and punched in 7Ks for his highest total in a while. Vazquez also out-dueled ace, David Price.
Is he back on track? We’ll see. Vazquez has to learn to live by mixing up his pitches more as the velocity is not there that used to be there when he was younger. He has the makeup to be a difference maker and on this staff, he has the respect to anchor it as the established veteran. Sure, Josh Johnson is the de facto staff ace – and would be on most any other staff in the league. But with Johnson on the DL, it is even more crucial that Vazquez makes good on his $7M contract – he’ll just have to do it more with guile and smarts than ever before.