Time to give Javy Vazquez a breather


(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

If there’s one thing that was obvious during last night’s loss to the Tigers, it’s that the Yankee offense is mired in a rather hideous slump right now. If there’s a second thing that was obvious, it’s that Javy Vazquez is basically pitching with nothing these days. His fastballs lack life, his breaking balls hang more often than not, and his changeup tends to float out of the zone. This has been going on for at least three starts now, with both the team and Vazquez himself acknowledging a dead arm period.

After last night’s 106 pitch, 34 foul ball, 12 out effort, we’re starting to reach the point where the Yankees have to seriously reconsider Javy’s spot in the rotation. I’m not saying they should do anything drastic like stick him in the bullpen, I just want to see them give Javy some rest, both physically and mentally. Given his dead arm and obviously short stuff, a 15-day disabled list stint with a bout of shoulder weakness or soreness or tendinitis or whatever you want to call it gives Javy a breather and wouldn’t require any roster manipulation to keep the team from being short-changed. And the good news is that if the Yanks stick Vazquez on the disabled list today (can’t do it retroactively to yesterday since he actually played on that day, MLB rules), he’ll only miss two starts. Here, check it out.

Javy’s next start is scheduled for this Saturday against the oh-so-lowly Mariners, who will unfortunately be throwing the great Felix Hernandez. Ivan Nova, who last started Friday for Triple-A Scranton and has pitched to a 2.07 ERA in his last five starts, could fill-in during that game with ease. The Mariners have the game’s worst offense with a .288 team wOBA (before last night’s loss) and one of its worst road records at 17-41 (the heroic Cliff Lee is responsible for five of those wins), so you’re not throwing Nova to the wolves in his first career start. It’s a (theoretically) friendly environment against a bad team coming off a solid stretch of starts in Triple-A, so he’s set up for success. Given Javy’s recent performances, he wouldn’t have to do much for it to be a net gain for the Yanks.

After that Saturday game, Javy’s next turn would come next Thursday, and guess what? The Yanks are off that day. Here’s the schedule if you don’t believe me. They could either skip Nova outright that day, or (preferably) start him on Friday and push the four other starters back a day. There’s nothing wrong with giving them a little extra rest. If they go that route, the next time they’d need a fifth starter is the following Wednesday, which is the day Javy is eligible to come off the DL. He could make that start no problem.

In addition, the Yanks would be able to call up a position player in the interim with Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez, and Lance Berkman all banged up. That guy (Kevin Russo makes sense because of his versatility) then goes back down for Nova before Saturday’s game. Nova then goes back down following his two starts in favor of whatever the team needs at the time; bullpen help, bench help, whatever. Either way, that 25-man roster spot turns into a bit of a revolving door while Vazquez is on the shelf, allowing the team to optimize the squad based on their needs at the time.

What’s the alternative to all this? They could run Javy out there on Saturday, hope for the best, then either skip him next Thursday if he continues to throw slow-pitch softball or start him Friday on his regular turn. It’s the always popular “do nothing” approach, which has a surprisingly good success rest.

The point of DL’ing Javy isn’t to give Nova two starts to show what he’s got, it’s to rest one of the team’s five primary starters and hopefully get him back to being the pitcher he was from mid-May to the All Star break. That guy would be a huge asset down the stretch in September, but the guy they have right now isn’t much of a help at all. And hey, there’s a chance the 15 days of rest won’t do anything and Vazquez will come back the same guy he is right now, but I think they have to at least try. At this point they’re just rolling the dice every five days, which is not something I advise doing in such a tight division race.

Categories : Pitching


  1. Ed says:

    Sounds reasonable to me. And Nova doesn’t actually have to go back down at the end of this – 15 days from now we get the 40 man major league roster, so we get even more flexibility.

  2. Daniel says:

    Mike, why are you not GM!?

  3. Bret says:

    I know no one will mention it because Brian Cashman can do no wrong here but this trade could be entering Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson territory depending on Vizcaino. 11 million for this guy is a disaster in and of itself, forget about the long term potential Atlanta acquired.

    The idea sounds right to me though assuming the Yankees are willing to admit Vazquez is a huge bust (which is what they would be doing if they DL him). Hughes getting an extra day would help his innings limit and they need the roster spot. The consecutive days without a day off is really starting to show what an old team this is.

  4. I’m on board.

    Let’s bring up Colin Curtis for the next 4 games to replace Kearns as the 4th OF (since he’d be starting in Nick’s place), then Nova for the 7 days of the 21st through the 28th for his two spot starts, then for the rest of Javy’s DL stint, call up… wait for it…

    Chad Moeller.

    Yeah, I said it. Why? Because putting Javy on the 15 day DL as of today would mean he’d be on the DL on midnight, August 31st (his final day), thus giving us an extra slot for the playoff roster, a slot we can use to get Chad Moeller playoff eligibility as an insurance policy against Frankie Cervelli’s continued suckitude.

    Dirty Peña, Ross in Jersey, you’re welcome.

    (Of course, if we can swing a trade for Jose Molina instead of Chad Moeller, all the better. But I digest.)

  5. Ross in Jersey says:

    Perfect excuse to call up Moeller and throw Cervelli’s ass on a bus until he can OPS his weight! Say Chad is Nova’s personal catcher or some other nonsense.

    Anyway, I really don’t know if skipping starts is going to help Javy. Can it? Sure. But let’s face it, this is a guy who has more innings on his arm in the last decade than any other pitcher. That’s a lot of mileage. People used the “he throws 200 innings every year” talking point as a strength when he was signed, but I think it’s likely more of a negative at this point.

    Here’s hoping a little rest does the trick and we can squeeze a bit more out of him down the stretch.

  6. Klemy says:

    I’m definitely on board with the DL stint to see what happens. It definitely won’t hurt to try and Javy hasn’t been getting any better with the current plan. He’s painful to watch out there, right now.

    Agreed with the Chad Moeller idea as well. Cervelli gets me swearing at the TV more than anyone else at the moment. He’s a built in rally killer, every time through the order right now. His defense has been subpar as well. There is absolutely no reason he should be getting starts on the highest paid team in baseball at this point. We have options that might be better and we should try them.

    • He’s a built in rally killer, every time through the order right now.

      Which makes it all the more hilarious/tragic* that he’s not the one who killed the big rally last night.

      (*At this point, take your pick. I don’t even care anymore, both answers are right.)

    • Ross in Jersey says:

      As self-proclaimed leader of the “We Want Moeller” movement, I think it’s prudent to remind people that he’s not a good offensive player. He won’t hit any better than Cervelli. The reason I, and others, want him called up is because Cervelli’s defense has been so mind-numbingly awful. Moeller is probably a 0 WAR player at this point, and yet that’s better than the negative WAR that Cervelli has been posting for the last 3 months.

      Sorry for the off-topic, but yeah, if you think Moeller isn’t going to be an equal rally-killer you’re kidding yourself.

  7. Kathy Herniman says:

    Javy did not have his best stuff but he still gave the team a chance to win. It has been a long time since a yankee team could not score 3 runs to come back and win a ball game. Something is missing this year and not sure what it is. The offense is sputtering and the defense has been a little iffy. Maybe one of the bosses needs to make a visit to the clubhouse. It seems to work.

    • CNight_UP says:

      While he only gave up 2 runs, Im not sure throwing 106 pitches in 4 innings, is giving your team a shot to win.

      • Troll says:

        This. He got lucky the bullpen has been beast mode, he didn’t set us up nicely.

      • Kathy Herniman says:

        he only gave up two runs. most nights the yanks can score more than that. the pen is there for a reason and they did a great job keeping it there. the only hiccup being Joba

    • Ed says:

      What’s missing is this year the team didn’t have the decency to get a large portion of their losses out of the way in April and May like they did last year. Instead, they started the season off incredibly hot, forcing us to have to deal with the unpleasantness of their won/loss record coming back to realistic levels by losing a little more.

      I do realize that with last night’s loss they are no longer on a 100 win pace, but, I still hold out hope that the team will find a way to make it to the postseason.

      • Chris says:

        Actually, they didn’t really start out too hot. They’ve pretty much played the same all season, with no major ups or downs. They haven’t had a 10 game stretch this season worse than 4-6. That’s pretty impressive even with all their struggles recently.

        • Pete says:

          well there was a period early on where for about two weeks they seemed to win every game like 10-2 while getting three walks apiece from NJ and Swisher and three hits apiece from Cano and Gardner and 7 innings from their starter.

        • Ed says:

          They certainly did start hot. They kept a .667 winning percentage thru May 15th – that’s a 108 win pace. They’ve been 48-34 since, which is a 95 win pace. A 95 win pace is still really good, but that’s pretty far back from 108.

          • Chris says:

            If they had played their first 36 games at a 95 win pace, they would have gone 21-15. In actuality, they went 24-12. So three wins over six weeks constitutes a hot start?

  8. Frank says:

    I have to disagree with you on this one, Mike. Vazquez is just a career average pitcher. The guy’s durable- I’ll give him that, but he’s just not a good fit for this team. I said it when they traded for him this past off-season. They won’t win with this guy. Can any of you honestly see the Yanks trusting him in any must win game moving forward? When it comes to the playoffs, I assure you he’s in the BP. To be honest with you, I prefer Mosely over Vazquez in the rotation when Pettitte returns. There’s a reason the Yanks were after Lee and Haren. As for offering this guy arbitration, a topic brought up over the weekend, it’s a no brainer. Just show Javy the door after this season, thank him for his efforts, and move on.

    • (scans Mike’s article to see where Mike mentioned that Javy Vazquez was better than a career average pitcher)
      (rescans Mike’s article to see where Mike mentioned that the trade for Javy Vazquez this winter was a good one)

      Nope, also not very relevant to the discussion at hand.

      • Bret says:

        Dude, you need to relax with the editing of everyone’s comments. I can understand if someone starts commenting on the San Diego Padres but a post about Vazquez means everything relating to Vazquez is on the table. You have better things to do with your time than play Thought Police.

        He was only good because he played in an inferior league in an extreme pitcher’s park – at best he was going to be a league average pitcher in a better league in a hitter’s park and his age should have been considered also. This is why the Rays win the division, they have Hellboy, Yanks have Ivan Nova.

      • Frank says:

        The article is about giving Vazquez a breather. I happen to think it won’t matter for the reason stated. If you think I was off topic, that’s fine. But please knock off the editing. It’s annoying as are you.

    • Troll says:

      I’m actually confused as to what you’re disagreeing with Mike about here. You obviously aren’t in love with Javy, so why would you disagree that he should be DL’ed to allow us to do some things?

      • Frank says:

        Because I don’t believe it will make a difference.

        • Pete says:

          but could it? that’s the question. One would have to think that not DLing him probably wouldn’t make a difference. The fact that DLing him could makes it at least worth considering, no?

  9. Bill O. says:

    I think this is a clear opportunity to see what Nova has. Javy has nothing right now. Missing 15 days could not hurt him. And I’d be surprised if it hurt the Yankees to go to Nova in Javy’s absence.

    Depending on what happens in the offseason Nova could be a candidate for next year’s rotation or at least just a call away should an injury occur. We have a good opportunity now to see what he hss, so why not take it?

  10. Rose says:

    I guess the 2010 Yankees are just incapable of taking advantage of anybody having a “Walk Year” huh? (Sans Mo, but he doesn’t count because all his years are basically the same – nasty.)

    Derek Jeter, Javier Vazquez, Nick Johnson, Lance Berkman, Chan Ho Park, etc.

    Granted, some of these players are only on one year deals…but all of them are coming off of great years as well.

  11. Reggie C. says:

    I missed out on watching Javy’s 12 out, 100 pitch performance. But hey, we didnt get blown out somehow. Javy’s performance isnt getting killed by Msm radio.

  12. Pete says:

    Absolutely on board. People act as though only young pitchers need innings limits, but I think it’d be huge for Javy to get a nice breather and come back a little rejuvenated. Remember, he was the 2nd best pitcher on the team for about 3 months (I do love how quickly people forgot about the fact that Javy and Andy held the rotation together during Hughes’s and AJ’s collective suckitudes and CC’s bout of mediocrity). If the yanks can get him back to anywhere near that level, they should try. Giving him rest could certainly be a means to that end.

  13. j_Yankees says:

    you know when you get a sick feeling in the bottom of your stomach…say when your wife calls you in to help change the babies diaper and you know it’s going to be a fucking mess.

    Thats kinda how i feel when Javy Vazquez has pitched this last month.

    /too harsh? or too soft?

    • ItsaTarp says:

      ehh a bit too harsh..he was good from may – at firsti thought he would get over it and it was just one of those bad starts everyone has (he wasn’t terrible vs the rays)…but then the dead arm and crap came and it really got frustrating. the team needs to give this guy a rest…when we did it during the sox series he came back better than ever. so it would really help him down the stretch to be skipped

  14. Wil Nieves #1 Fan says:

    No passion.

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