It’s a question that’s been asked since the Yankees reacquired Javy Vazquez right before the holidays. Was the second half of 2004 and his abysmal playoff showing the real Javy, or was it the product of bad mechanics or something along those lines? Jay at Fack Youk looked into the issue and determined that yeah, Javy generally does perform worse in higher leverage situations.
During his twelve year career, Vazquez has posted a .798 OPS against with a 4.51 FIP in hi-lev situations compared to .700 & 3.60 in lo-lev spots. American League pitchers posted a .750 OPS against with a 4.45 FIP in hi-lev spots last year, so Javy’s slightly below average in that regard. The flip side of the coin is that Vazquez is superb in lower leverage spots, as AL pitchers posted a .765 OPS against and a 4.56 FIP in those situations last year. Obviously you want pitchers that bear down and do well in big spots, but for a fourth starter, Vazquez is far more than qualified.
If you’re someone that believes in intangibles and stuff (they certainly exist, though I don’t think they’re nearly as important or have as much of an impact as many believe), then Javy has two things going for him this year: a) it’s a contract year and he’s never once been on the free agent market, and b) dude’s got a chip on his shoulder, he’s going to be out to prove that what we saw in 2004 was not the real Javy. I’m betting contract year Javy Vazquez is going to be a damn good pitcher.