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Anthony Vasquez Allows Other Starters To Rest, Gets Clobbered

At this point in the game the Angels were winning 12-2
At this point in the game the Angels were winning 12-2

I like that Eric Wedge and the Mariners are currently running with a six-man rotation. I really do. By this point in the year, everybody's tired, and it can't possibly hurt to give the starters extra rest. It's not like the M's are playing for anything, and they have a young group of arms that can use the breather. Not just Michael Pineda, either, but everybody, Felix included. More rest is never a bad thing.

But the thing about a six-man rotation is that you need six men to fill it. You need to stretch yourself a little thinner. You need to have 20% more starters than everybody else. A month ago, the Mariners traded Doug Fister and Erik Bedard, and at present, the Mariners are employing a six-man rotation. And that's how they've wound up giving starts to Anthony Vasquez.

In my head, I've tried to give Vasquez the benefit of the doubt. So Vasquez doesn't throw the most impressive stuff. Jason Vargas doesn't throw the most impressive stuff. So Vasquez has allowed 14 runs in 9.1 innings. Vargas has allowed 19 runs in 16.2 innings. Who's to say we haven't just caught Vasquez at his absolute worst? Who's to say he isn't capable of having as much success as Vargas is, and thus, who's to say he can't also cut it at the back of a big league rotation?

But it doesn't work. Vasquez is a guy who didn't throw enough strikes or miss enough bats in Triple-A. He didn't miss enough bats in Double-A, either. I'll grant that he's probably been nervous, and that those nerves might have had an effect on his performance, but I see his numbers in the minors, and I see him pitch with my eyes, and I just feel bad for him. I feel good for him, because he's in the Major Leagues and being in the Major Leagues is awesome, but I feel bad for him, because he's in so far over his head that there's no air for him to breathe. Anthony Vasquez is not a Major League pitcher, and Major League hitters have a tendency of destroying pitchers who don't belong.

It wouldn't be impossible for Anthony Vasquez to have success at the highest level with his repertoire. It wouldn't be impossible for me to have success at the highest level with my repertoire. I could do it if I put every single one of my pitches exactly where I wanted to. Same with Vasquez. But I can't do it, and he can't do it. The less you have, the more accurate you need to be, and Vasquez doesn't have nearly the command he needs to be another Jamie Moyer. He has the command to be what would happen to Jamie Moyer if he pitched on a mound of ball bearings.

I want Anthony Vasquez to succeed, obviously. He's Mariners property, and you can never have enough good pitching. But the gulf between Anthony Vasquez now and Anthony Vasquez, effective Major Leaguer is wider than Newberry Caldera (ed. note: +25 points!). He needs all of his pitches to be better, and he needs his command to be better. He basically needs to be a perfect version of himself. What are the odds that he becomes a perfect version of himself? I think there's a movie out about that right now, and I'm pretty sure the protagonist gets in trouble.

Okay, so, Anthony Vasquez isn't very good. What do you do? If you're the Mariners, you don't really have much of a choice, at least as long as you're committed to this six-man rotation thing. The only other option as I see it is Tom Wilhelmsen, and the team probably won't want to mess with him as long as he's pitching this way out of the bullpen. The M's could also turn Vasquez's starts into bullpen games once the rosters expand, but then that just uses a lot of guys up.

So I guess the Mariners stick with Vasquez. For now. It's not like he's killing them, since there's nothing to kill. The harm he can do is limited, and the most important thing is getting everybody extra rest. But maybe the team reconsiders if Vasquez gets bombed again the next time. I suppose you can't keep running a guy out if he's just going to get throttled, no matter how irrelevant the games. You still need to try, and you don't want Vasquez's self-confidence to shatter into a billion little pieces.

In a way, Vasquez is a pitching version of Carlos Peguero. The two are alike in that they have received Major League playing time despite being nowhere near Major League-ready. But then, Peguero has theoretical upside. Vasquez, I dunno. If everything, and I mean everything breaks right, maybe he could be a #4 on the Twins. But only maybe.

What a weird chapter, for the Mariners, and for Vasquez. Anthony Vasquez is starting games in the Major Leagues because there is almost literally nobody else. I hope Vasquez can at least take something positive out of all this before he goes back to where he belongs. I know Mike Trout has.