2009: Javier Vazquez struggled mightily during his 2004 campaign in the Bronx and was promptly dropped from the Yankees roster. That year, however, should be considered an anomaly. In his 11 year career he has thrown under 200 innings only three times; in 2004 and during his rookie and sophomore years in the MLB. Including those seasons he has averaged 226 innings every season.
2009 was one of Vazquez’s best seasons in the majors. In 32 games he pitched 219.1 innings while giving up only 181 hits and more importantly only 70 earned runs which gave him an astounding 2.87 ERA. While he only finished with a 15-10 record, the Braves’ lack of offensive power is probably one of the only reasons that he did not win 18-20 games. Of his 7 no decisions, 3 of those were great starts (a great start being 6 or more innings pitched while giving up 2 or fewer earned runs) and one was a good start (6 or more innings pitched while giving up 3 or fewer runs). If he had a more potent offense behind him he could have easily picked up 4 or more wins.
Another impressive feature of Vazquez’s 2009 campaign was that only 4 of his 32 starts lasted less than 6 innings and 18 of his starts lasted at least 7 innings. Yes, that is correct, 18 starts lasted at least 7 innings. As Yankees fans we should take a few moments to bask in that fact. Then remember that Vazquez is going to be the 4th starter. Take a few more seconds. You can breathe again.
- 2009 Stats: 32 Games 15 Wins 10 Losses 2.87 ERA 219.1 Innings 181 Hits 44 Walks 238 Strikeouts
2010: If AJ Burnett can recognize that he does not need to force his curveball on days where it is not a dominant pitch and Andy Pettitte remains as consistent as he was last season, Vazquez will push the Yankees over the top in terms of depth of the starting rotation. While I do not believe that Vazquez’s numbers will be nearly as impressive as they were last year due to the switch to the AL East, he certainly will be able to take pressure off of the 5th starter. Keep in mind he faced the Phillies 5 times and went 3-2 with 33 innings pitched and only 11 earned runs so he proved that he could hang with one of the best offensive teams in the MLB.
Personally I believe that Vazquez is the lynch pin of the Yankees pitching staff. We know what we are going to get out of CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte and have a good idea of what Burnett will bring to the table. If Vazquez is able to pitch over 200 innings, keep his ERA around 3.75-4.00, and only have 4-5 bad starts then I think the Yankees will have to be considered favorites to win the AL East. By pitching so many innings, the pressure on the 5th starter (previews of the candidates coming soon) will be significantly less and will allowed whoever takes that spot to simply pitch rather than obsess over pitch counts because the bullpen will be well rested. No pressure Javier.
- 2010 Prediction: 30 Games 16 Wins 9 Losses 3.60 ERA 210 Innings 170 Hits 40 Walks 215 Strikeouts