Javier Vazquez(notes) rejoining the New York Yankees rotation won’t receive the same fanfare as Alex Rodriguez’s(notes) return to the lineup, but getting the right-hander back on track could be crucial to the club’s fortunes.
After a two-week demotion to the bullpen, Vazquez takes the mound looking to help the Yankees increase their AL East lead when they face the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.
As Rodriguez eyes a Sunday return from a strained calf that has kept him out for two weeks, Vazquez is set to start after some promising relief work earned him back his spot in the rotation.
Vazquez (10-9, 4.86 ERA) was demoted after going 2-2 with a 6.69 ERA from July 21-Aug. 21, but posted a 2.00 ERA in nine innings over two games out of the bullpen.
“We like the way Javy has been throwing the baseball,” manager Joe Girardi told the Yankees’ official website. “We made some minor adjustments and it seemed to really help him.”
One of those appearances came at Toronto on Aug. 25, when Vazquez gave up two hits and a solo home run in 4 1-3 innings of a 6-3 loss.
That was part of a 12-game stretch in which Vazquez posted a 2.75 ERA, and the Yankees need him to regain that form. New York has struggled to stabilize its rotation due to injury and ineffectiveness.
“We’ve got a good enough lineup, a good enough bullpen, a good enough starting five that if a couple guys are down and some other guys have to fill in, we still feel like we can win,” Gardner said.
The Yankees have won 13 of 17, scoring at least six runs 10 times.
The lineup could be even more dangerous by the end of this series. Rodriguez will run the bases at full speed before Saturday’s game in the final test for his calf.
“Just want to make sure we cover everything before we get back out there,” he said after doing some running Friday. “But today felt pretty good.”
The left-hander lasted three innings and gave up six runs and three homers in an 11-5 loss Aug. 24. He is 0-2 with a 10.22 ERA in three starts versus the Yankees.
Rzepczynski has posted an 8.31 ERA in his last three outings. He allowed four runs, walked five and struck out eight in 5 2-3 innings of a 10-4 defeat to Detroit last Sunday.
“I feel like I’m heading in the right direction,” he told the Blue Jays’ official website. “I feel I got back to where I was last year, especially with my offspeed pitches. I didn’t have one two starts ago.”