Let’s take a quick look at the following via the Bergen Record’s Bob Klapisch:
The Yankees will tell you their 5-3 loss to the Angels was uneventful, forgettable, even, but senior officials have to be concerned by Vazquez’s velocity readings. Forget about the booing: the real story was Vazquez’s inability to crank up his fastball much beyond 88-89 mph, and the subsequent failure to put hitters away at two strikes.
Vazquez came to the Yankees this winter as a bona fide strikeout pitcher – only Randy Johnson fanned more batters in the last decade – yet the right-hander only got two swings and misses with his fastball all day.
First, Javier Vazquez generally sits in the 91 mph range with his fastball (FanGraphs notes his career average as 91.3 mph). Therefore, I am not too concerned with his velocity right now, as he was hitting 88-91 mph yesterday. In fact, according to Brooks Baseball’s PitchFX data, Vazquez’s average speed against the Angels was 88.82 mph, and his max speed was 91 mph, which is not a far cry from where he normally is with his four-seamer. Perhaps the velocity will further improve as the days go by and the weather continues to warm. This does not appear to be a real issue.
Secondly, Vazquez is, indeed, a strikeout pitcher, however, his strikeouts are generally obtained through the use of secondary pitches – the breaking stuff – not fastballs. That is not to say that Vazquez does not strike people out with his fastball, of course, as the whiff rate on it last season was 8.4%. However, the percentages on his slider (13.6%), curveball (17.9%), and changeup (21.9%) were markedly better. Thus, it is disingenuous, at least journalistically, to paint Vazquez as some flamethrower that lost his spark and, as a result, cannot strike any batters out. Although that might make for a provocative piece that lures Javy-hating Yankee fans, in reality, such a description is inaccurate.
But, hey, why let a little thing like the truth get in the way of your article? It is boring, after all…
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