The Washington Times - May 15, 2011, 10:37AM

When the Florida Marlins gave Javier Vazquez a $7 million, one-year contract last December, they expected the right-hander to provide a veteran boost to the team’s rotation. Turns out Vazquez has been the team’s worst pitcher over his first seven starts.

And if the Nationals’ scuffling offense is going to come untracked, there may not be a better man to face.

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Over 35.1 innings, Vazquez is 2-3 with a 6.88 earned-run average. More telling: he’s surrendered 44 hits and 22 walks during the span, while striking out just 16. He’s topped 100 pitches once this season, an eyebrow-raising statistic from someone whose durability allowed him to top 200 innings nine times in his career.

Vazquez did spend last Tuesday through Friday on the bereavement list because of a death in his wife’s family.

Regardless, his stuff isn’t fooling anyone. While his velocity is around its usual high 80 miles per hour, only 3.9 percent of his strikes were swinging. That’s another eyebrow-raiser, from someone whose career average is 11.2 percent.

Here’s how the Nationals have fared against Vazquez:

Roger Bernadina: Hasn’t faced.

Danny Espinosa: Hasn’t faced.

Jayson Werth: 2-for-22 (.091), .200 OBP.

Laynce Nix: 2-for-6, 1 2B.

Adam LaRoche: 4-for-18 (.222), 1 2B, .278 OBP.

Wilson Ramos: Hasn’t faced.

Ian Desmond: 0-for-4.

Jerry Hairston: 5-for-18 (.278), 1 HR, .316 OBP.

Jason Marquis: 1-for-5, 1 HR.

Others:

Ivan Rodriguez: 13-for-29 (.448), 4 2B, 1 HR, .448 OBP.

Matt Stairs: 2-for-24 (.091), 1 HR, .185 OBP.

Alex Cora: 8-for-21 (.381), 1 2B, .458 OBP.