The way Javier Vazquez was pitching last night it looked like he was going to take care of the Mets all by himself. Six innings, one hit, six strikeouts and only 70 pitches. Unfortunately he bruised his hand while bunting in the top of the 7th inning and needed some help.
X-rays were taken after the game and came back negative. Vazquez even went as far as to say that he was confident that he would make his next start. Vazquez actually hurt the finger on the pitch before he successfully laid down the bunt and didn’t realize that his finger was bleeding until he got back to the dugout and took his batting glove off. The only thing that was significantly hurt was his ego.
“I feel so embarrassed because I’ve been doing this so many years in the National League and this has never happened to me,” Vazquez said.
As for Vazquez’s performance on the mound, it was terrific. This is not to be expected every time he takes the mound, but this is why some fans and pundits have defended him all this time despite all the shaky starts. The biggest difference was not the National League or the Mets sorry offense, it was his stuff.
For most of this season Vazquez has been sitting in the upper 80’s with his fastball with no ability to locate the pitch. Because of this his other pitches suffered because hitters could get into favorable counts and sit on their pitch in a certain location. Last night was different though, not only was Vazquez hitting 91 occasionally, but more importantly he was throwing his fastball where he wanted when he wanted. This allowed him to get into good pitchers counts and force hitters to chance his breaking balls.
The truth is the Mets offense has been a mess all season and Vazquez isn’t going to dominate every team like that even when he is going well. But last night’s performance should serve as a reminder that he is a capable and successful pitcher. Pigeonholing him as a loser or someone who can’t compete in New York is not only wrong, it’s unfair to Vazquez, and it really ignores a lot of evidence that this guy can be a huge piece of the back-end of this Yankees rotation.
Not every pitcher needs to be CC Sabathia good.