The return of Javy Vazquez


Photo Credit: Christine Cotter, AP

Did you miss him?

It’s been more than a week since the Yankees’ ineffective fourth starter took the mound, but he’ll (hopefully) make his return tonight after two high intensity side sessions. “Usually my bullpens are nice and easy,” said Vazquez. “These I pushed it a little bit.” Of course, pretty much everything looks and feels good in the bullpen, so we’re not going to know if the extra work and extra rest does any good until a real live batter with the intention of beating the Yankees steps in the box.

There are two things I’m going to watching for tonight, and they aren’t mutually exclusive. First off all, I want to see how Javy works his fastball. Not necessarily the radar gun readings  (though I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing some consistent 91-92’s), but how he uses it. He’s throwing 49.9% fastballs this year, which is actually how much he threw it in 2009, but the big difference is when he’s going to the pitch. When he falls behind 2-0, Vazquez has thrown his heater 61% of the time this year, and in 3-1 counts it’s 71%. Last year those totals were 54% and 62%, respectively.

A large part of his success last year came from pitching backwards; when Vazquez threw offspeed pitches in fastball counts and fastballs in offspeed pitch counts. Now he’s being a bit more predictable. Most batters will sit on a fastball up 2-0 because the pitcher wants to throw a strike, and so far Vazquez has been giving it to them. More so than he did last year, anyway. Of course the simple solution is to stop falling behind hitters, but that’s easier said then done. Sometimes you throw strikes and the umpire just doesn’t call it.

The second thing I’m going to pay attention to is how efficient Vazquez is with his pitches. Last year the threw exactly two-thirds of his pitches for strikes, but this year it’s down to 61.6%, and thus his pitches per batter faced has climbed to 3.98 from 3.79. It doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but it’s very real and it does exist. The more pitches you have to throw to a batter the more likely you are to make a mistake, especially with slightly diminished stuff like what Javy has this year.

Using his fastball and throwing more strikes are part of the equation, the other part has to do with Vazquez rebuilding his confidence. I hate to play the part of psychotherapist, but I find it hard to believe that someone could take the pounding Javy’s taken so far and feel good about themselves. Phil Hughes has talked about it ad nauseum this year, that the difference between then and now for him is the conviction with which he throws his pitches. Vazquez needs to get a little of that back, but it won’t be easy. I don’t know what comes first, pitching effectively or confidence, but that’s not for me to figure out.

Categories : Pitching
  • larryf

    Throw that fastball inside and the junk will be far more effective. Don’t be afraid Javy!!!

    • poster

      “Junk will be far more effective.” Haha.


  • Tank the Frank

    The Tigers will be a tough task for Javy tonight. He doesn’t have good numbers at Comerica. I’ll look for him to have an improved outing and keep the Yankees in the game against Rick “The YOUK Assassin” Porcello. The Yankees will finally start playing some extended home stands against bad teams come end of May into June. Hopefully that’s where he can rip off some impressive starts.

  • steve s

    It seemed that the gun readings in Det last night were running high so may not be an accurate barometer for judging if Javy is throwing harder tonight compared to his prior outings.

    • Hey ZZ

      The Gameday and Pitch FX data back up the gun readings in Detroit from last night.

      • steve s

        Great as Joba was hitting 97 (at least that’s what was getting posted on Yes).

        • Matt Imbrogno

          Per Gameday, nothing was lower than 96. He was on FIRE last night.

        • Hey ZZ

          Yeah, Joba looked phenomenal last night. IIRC he maxed out at 98.

          Not just velocity, but life on his pitches, control, command, working fast, etc.

          Best he has looked in maybe 2 years.

          • Mike HC

            Definitely looked like Joba of 2007, but I don’t think his control was that great. He was throwing strikes, but just blowing guys away. The final pitch was a fastball up and down the middle. Far off his spot.

  • Matt Imbrogno

    To answer the rhetorical question that started the post, yeah, I did miss him. I know he’s been frustrating this year, but I’m excited for him to get back on track. Each start is a chance for him to do that so I’m always eager to see him. Hopefully, tonight is the night.

    • pat

      Word. Seems like most poeple want to shit on the guy because of the 2nd half 04 and his slow start this year. A healthy and effective Javy makes this team almost unbeatable.

      • Ray Fuego

        This. People forget he can be an effective workhorse. It seems like people want him to be an ace when he’s just a fourth starter. Its time to have faith in our guys instead of crucifying them.

  • larryf

    Joba’s new, more mature and mellow fist pump is taking his glove out from his left hand after a K and moving it to his right while his teammates fire the ball around the infield. The one year prep to being a starter next year…

    • dkidd

      both he and hughes have a great post-strikeout routine: turn your back on the batter and walk briskly off the mound. “next!”

  • dkidd

    per fangraphs, from 2005-2009 javy’s fastball velocity was 91-92. this year it’s 89. command is obviously an issue, but isn’t velocity the simplest way to tell if he’s healthy and/or his mechanics are where they need to be?

  • TheLastClown

    Everything worth saying about his situation’s already said, but I’m pullin
    for ya Mr. Vazquez, so I’ll just add in a RABbinical….

    …..JAVY NAGILA!!!

    *no more Molina, so I suggest retooling it for our beleaguered friend*

  • nathan

    I am a little disappointed with Eiland. I am not blaming Dave for Javy’s issues, but i read a quote over at Mark Feinsand’s blog at NYDN

    “I like what I’m seeing, but we need to see him take it into the game,” Eiland said. “It’s like a hitter who hits the ball all over the ballpark at 5:00, but can’t take it out there at 7:00. We need to see Javy do it at 7:00.”

    Did he really have to say that, this is a guy who atleast for now needs some reassurance and confidence, but, both Joe G in his radio interviews and Eiland have been less than 100% supportive of Javy. I quite cant imagine how a manager or a bullpen coach can be so aloof. Jerry Manuel of all people supports Ollie Perez and Maine everytime. Everytime I hear Joe G on Francesa’s show, I wonder whether Joe G liked this trade at all. I think a public reassurance and message from the manager would give some confidence to both the fans and the player. Sigh.

    • TheLastClown

      I don’t know. I see where you’re coming from, but it seems to me that someone like Ollie Perez, who has all this raw talent that has never been able to translate into sustained MLB success, needs that kind of hand on his shoulder, so to speak.

      Javy’s been a perfectly acceptable starter for over a decade. Eiland’s comment seems like he’s calling it as he sees it. He said Javy’s stuff looks good in his BP sessions, but hasn’t *yet* translated into a real game. He’s saying “He’s in a slump, and he needs to perform like we all know he’s capable.”

      That seems like support to me.

    • Tank the Frank

      Meh, it’s nothing Javy doesn’t already know. I’m sure he would say the same thing if asked. Also, both Girardi and Brian Cashman have gone public in support of Javy a number of times IIRC.

    • CS Yankee

      Good point.

      (looks around for pump and bucket of BS for Javy)

    • Mike HC

      I don’t mind that at all, and as a fan is the type of stuff I want to hear. It means the team is doing everything they can with Javy to get it fixed, but at the end of the day, he is the only one who can go out there and make it work in the game.

    • mike c

      hmmm, sounds like girardi and eiland hate javy and want him to lose so that they can go online and write that he sucks

      • nathan

        Great, thats exactly what I meant. Duh !

    • DCBX

      Javy’s a big boy. You saying he can’t handle the truth?

  • Johnny O

    I saw that the Red Sox were going to skip Beckett’s next turn in the rotation because they noticed mechanical problems in his delivery from the stretch. And this is before he hurt his back taking BP.

    This just further puts Javy’s skipped turn and subsequent hand-wringing/kvetching in perspective.

  • andrew colin

    so far. every off season move cashman made has tanked. bad luck? who knows? branch rickey said luck is the residue of design. was it really necessary to trade for ganderson? the key here is talent evaluation. if the team felt gardner could play center, than why trade jackson for ganderson? if they didn’t feel gardner was any good, well why not? he’s been doing great. and jackson, what about him? clearly he is ready, why didn’t yankee talent evaluator’s know that? and vasquez, you know the expression fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. guy can’t pitch in NY. well done mr. cashman, well done

    • bexarama

      I don’t actually know anything about this Vasquez guy, whoever he is.

      • poster

        Or that ganderson fellow. Interesting practice not to capitalize the last name.

        • Jack

          I hear he’s a switch hitter.

          • TheLastClown

            Nah, he gave it up ’cause he can’t hit lefties. He only bats right handed nowadays.

    • pat

      Blah blah blah. Is it now a requisite for one of these posts in every thread? That’s just tired.

      • poster

        The way he talks about them I’m quite glad Cashman didn’t sign vasquez or ganderson. They really must be bad.

    • Mike HC

      We got Granderson to be our long term Centerfielder. Making a final judgment on that trade is foolish right now. It is like a month and half into the season. Jackson’s average went from .371 to .360 with a single 0-4 night last night. Lets wait at least until the end of the year before calling this trade.

      And the Javy deal we didn’t really give anything up. Melky was replaceable and basically worthless to this team. We also traded a young pitcher who may never do anything in the bigs and even if he does it could be years from now. Cashman took a chance on a guy with a 2 something ERA in the NL. Not a bad bet to make and the type of trade you want your GM to make. He could have done nothing and then Joba is not in the pen. Then the pen looks in shambles with Aceves and Ho on the DL, Robertson struggling, even Mo a little banged up. Javy gives us important depth this year.

      • poster

        Actually, I think we should’ve gotten Vazquez AND kept Jobber in the rotation, but whatevs.

        • Hey ZZ

          Pretty hard to argue with Hughes over Joba at this point. Hughes is light years ahead of Joba right now in terms of being a reliable and good major league starter.

          • TheLastClown

            Light years? I know he’s been pitching great, and I love him in the rotation, but he has a .208 BABIP right now, he’s due for a bit of a correction. (Also leading MLB in H/9)

            Joba had stretches of flat out dominance last year, totally reminiscent of what Hughes is doing right now.

            Hughes will struggle, and I wouldn’t be surprised if his 2010 turns out similar, albeit slightly better, than Joba’s 2009. I don’t know about light years though.

            • Hey ZZ

              Nothing Joba did last year is even close to what Hughes has demonstrated so far this season.

              You cannot just judge player’s on a stat sheet especially in small samples. Especially when you are looking at young starters and are trying to determine how sustainable their performance is, the stat sheet is only a small part of the equation.

              Right now Hughes is demonstrating the one tool every pitcher in the world would kill for. That is an elite fastball. His fastball right now ranks up there with the best pitchers in the game. It has so much life in the zone and he has such great control of it that major league hitters literally cannot touch it. There have been maybe a handful of hitters so far this season that have put the barrel of the bat on his fastball which is the biggest reason why his BABIP is so slow.

              Joba had a few flash in the pan starts last year that every starting pitcher is going to have over the course of the season but everything about him screamed that it was a complete aberration. His mechanics were a complete mess. His arm slot would literally change pitch to pitch. His fastball was flat the vast majority of the time and his slider had very little bite. And the worst part is that he had no control or life on any of his pitches.

              Phil Hughes is literally dominating major league hitters with 2 slight different pitches right now and for the most part keeping his very good curveball in his pocket right now except as a show me pitch. Once he gets his changeup going Hughes is going to be a scary good major league starter.

              Joba is in the bullpen right now because everything about his performance last year was a complete question. Even until last night he was still having issues pitching just one inning with sound mechanics and a good fastball.

              They frankly are not close and the biggest reason is the qualitative markers surrounding them.

              • Hey ZZ

                Well I should say I think they are frankly not close

      • TheLastClown

        /waste of breath’d

        • Mike HC

          On the bright side, andrew colin’s con artist type website has some interesting Porn/elevator music to go along with a business appropriate hot babe.

      • Marcus

        Thank you. His logical fail was manifold.

        I couldn’t come up with a level-headed response that didn’t include about three layers of sarcasm.

        • Mike HC

          He is really not that far off though. Just because I don’t fully agree with him, does not mean he didn’t make some sense there. In my opinion.

  • nathan

    Is that you Steve Lombardi from I know its you, come on man, its ok. I know its hard to admit that a Cash$$ team won a WS last year, must hurt real bad. Relax, we have the second best team in the league or does that not count. But I do command your intellect that correctly predicts that Jackson would have the same stats in Yankee Stadium as in DET or his BABIP should be ignored and his readiness is all in the BA. While you are at it, can you also tell us how good Mike Francesa and Craig Carton are at radio.

    • nathan

      // reply failed

      // Andrew Colin

  • Dirty Pena

    Game is postponed.

  • andrew colin

    hey mike hc glad you like my website. qivana’a new metaaboliq could probably benefit you. as for my comments. tell me where i am wrong?
    name last great cashman trade?

    • Matt Imbrogno

      Nick Swisher for Wilson Betemit, et. al.

    • Mike HC

      Wilson Betemit for Nick Swisher.

      Not trading Gardner although many teams came a calling for him.

      How about making the smart move to not trade for Johan Santana in 2008, holding onto Joba, Phil and Montero, and then using that money to sign Teix, along CC, AJ, and Pettitte, our three man rotation which won us a WS last year.

      • bexarama

        yep. I was pretty torn on the Santana trade at the time, but right now at least, it seems like:

        Hughes and whoever else they wanted + CC > Johan

    • bexarama

      I’m not Mike HC but that’s ridiculously easy, Swisher. Highway f-cking robbery by Cash there and Swisher is a very important part of our team. Oh, and the Javy trade was quite good and I’d do it again today. Guess what? Same with the Granderson trade.

      • KeithK

        Even if Vazquez is terrible for this entire season you still have to say the Melky for Javy deal was a good trade given the information available at the time. Reliable workhorse starter for a fourth outfielder and a pitching prospect is the kind of deal you want your GM to make.

        Some trades are going to backfire on you simply because you can’t predict the future. I’ll get concerned when a solid majority of trades go badly. That hasn’t happened. Cashman isn’t Dayton Moore.

    • mike c

      the arod trade was GREAT, swisher was very good but cashman should be in jail for grand larceny from the arod deal

    • TheLastClown

      I’m not Mike HC either, who already actually responded to you to point out your errors, but since you asked…

      1. Austin Jackson is playing out of his mind right now. He had a high BABIP in the minors last year, but nowhere near where he’s at right now. More than half of the balls he puts in play are not going to continue to fall in. Here’s some reading for you.

      2. Was it necessary to trade a good fielding, doubles type RH bat for a good fielding power LH bat w/ speed? Maybe not, but I’m very curious if you were lamenting the move when Granderson hit a HR in his 1st AB and then another off Papelbon?

      3. Gardner hadn’t showed last year what he’s shown so far, so he couldn’t be counted on to do so. He did have a similar pregression in the minors, taking some time to get adjusted to new levels before excelling, but there was no guarantee he would continue to do so. I don’t think the FO, or any of us for that matter, would’ve been too comfortable w/ Cash saying, “OK in 2010, we’re going with an OF of Gardner/AJax/Swisher”

      4. Are you really lamenting the loss of Melky? I mean come on, Vazquez was a steal! If he puts it together & performs like he can, we have the #1 rotation in baseball, period. Oh, and his 1st half of 2004 was quite good if you care to go look it up.

      5. Your reasoning smacks of the fallacy of the predetermined outcome. We have no idea if AJax would be hitting anywhere close to this if he was brought up as a Yankee. Whole different set of circumstances. Same goes for Granderson’s injury.

      You can’t go back & 2nd guess sound decisions that go awry because it leads you to make unsound decisions in the future, based on fear instead of reason.

      Just to let you know, the Yankees are 21-10 with all these problems. If the team gets healthy, even you I think can’t miss how great this team, and de facto this GM, is.

  • andrew colin