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Posts Tagged ‘Javier Vaquez’

In an earlier post, I discussed Javier Vazquez‘s recent ineffectiveness and his “dead arm.” I postulated the idea that this is the perfect opportunity to skip him once or twice through the rotation, see if his arm strength returns in September and take it from there. I fretted about the cumulative effect of having an ineffective Vazquez, an inconsistent AJ Burnett and Phil Hughes’ innings limit will have on the team as a whole and on the bullpen in particular.

If you watched last night’s game, you saw everything I’m worried about in a nutshell.

I realize the offense was pathetic and if the team had hit – even just a little bit – they likely win that game. I realize, too, that mid-August is not the time for a team-wide slump (but anytime your line-up includes Ramiro Pena, Francisco Cervelli and Brett Gardner you’re not likely to see much offense, anyway). And I know Joe Girardi publicly blasted the team for the overall horrible way they played yesterday. But let’s have a reality check here: Javy’s performance last was the epitome of “it’s better to be lucky than good.” He pitched with men on base throughout his four innings of work and every ball the Tigers hit seemed to leave a vapor trail. Once again, his average fastball clocked in at 87mph – below his season average of 89mph and more than 4mph below his career average.

At this point, the question isn’t if Javy can be effective pitching without velocity. The answer is patently obvious – he can’t. The question now is, what do the Yankees do about it? I can’t see them throwing him out there again without having Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre warmed and ready to go in the first inning. Much as the Mets found themselves doing earlier this season with John Maine, it may be time for the Yanks to tell Javy he’s hurt and DL him. Even though you might think that Vazquez would let somebody know if he’s hurt, this is a guy with a track record for hiding injuries. The last time he was in pinstripes, much the same thing happened – and it can be argued that it cost the team a chance to repeat as AL Champions that year. And this year, facing free agency at the end of the season, Vazquez has even more reason to hide an injury – even if it costs the team a chance to defend their World Championship. As bad as he’s been lately, he still has a chance at a decent contract with a 2nd division team. But nobody will give a 35 year old pitcher coming off an injury much in the way of a contract – a fact Vazquez has to be aware of.

Regardless of his health, the team simply cannot let him pitch until they know he can be effective. The race is too tight to let the bullpen eat up this many innings on a nightly basis. If they aren’t going to DL him and bring up a serviceable starter in his stead, then the least they can do is skip his next turn or two and let Mitre or Gaudin take the turn. While they’re not exactly world-beaters (there IS a reason they’re in the bullpen, after all), it would give Vazquez a chance to rest his arm and the Yankees a chance to see if he can be counted on for the stretch run.

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