Pitcher Javier Vázquez had a rough outting yesterday against the Tampa Bay Rays. In 5.2 innings, he allowed eight runs (all earned) while walking three batters and surrendering two home runs. He picked up the "L" yesterday in the Yankees loss to the Rays. This wouldn't necessarily be the biggest of worries for the Yankees and their fans if they hadn't seen Vázquez underperform before in pinstripes. Now, should the Bombers be concerned about their number four starter?
Vázquez is one of several Yankees alongside Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia to statistically start the year off slowly (Click here for Vázquez's stats). No Yankee or Yankee fan should feel worried about Javier's remaining season. In 2004, his first season as a Yankee, he actually made the All-Star roster, which was the first and, currently, the only time doing so.
Up until he got hurt around the All-Star break, Vázquez had an ERA of 3.56 with a record of 10-5. However, he is infamously remembered for his second half of the that year and finished the year with a 14-10 record with a 4.91 ERA, as well as the postseason where went 1-0, but had an ERA of 9.53; however, he was still injured at the time and has matured since then. In fact, just last year, Vázquez was a Cy Young contender for the Atlanta Braves, and finished fourth in overall voting behind Tim Lincecum, Chris Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright. Last year, he went 15-10 while boasting a 2.87 ERA and 238 strikeouts.
In my personal opinion, the 33-year-old pitcher was a great acquisition this past offseason for the Yanks. He is only being relied on as the number four starter, so there is a huge amount less pressure on him than when he was a number two or three and was statistically the best starter in the rotation that year. Now that he pitches after CC, A.J. Burnett, and Andy Pettitte, the pressure is lessened. And if (but really when) the Yankees make the playoffs, he won't even have to pitch in the postseason. Last year when they won number 27, the rotation consisted of CC, A.J., and Andy; this rotation is expected to stay the same for this year.
Look for Javier to get accustomed to the rotation and the team after a couple of starts, so don't jump on Vázquez... just yet at least. Afterall, the lineup he faced is a very good one, not the way any pitcher wants to start the year off. Jason Bartlett is a solid leadoff hitter, Carl Crawford is an extremely fast runner with power and has a career .295 average, Ben Zobrist is a very good hitter who definitely has power, Carlos Peña is always capable of hitting 35+ homers a year, Evan Longoria is an absolute stud who can hit about 30 homers, B.J. Upton is also very fast and has shown spurts of power, Pat Burrell has declined in hitting over the past year or two, but is still a power-threat, and Kelly Shoppach, Dioner Navarro, Sean Rodriguez, and Willy Aybar aren't slouches in the batting box either. Vázquez really just caught a bad break early this year, and if he faces the Rays later in the year, I think he will fare much better than last night's game. We'll have a much better idea of what he'll be like from his next couple of starts. My thinking is he'll put up solid numbers and will have a successful return as a New York Yankee.
Feel free to leave any comments or questions you may have.