Javier Vazquez took over for Phil Hughes last night, pitching the last 4.1 innings, giving up just one run (on a homer, of course) on two hits and one walk with two strikeouts. With Ivan Nova’s successful first Major League start the other night, it appears that we’re going to see Vazquez in the bullpen for the foreseeable future. Javy is talented enough to succeed in the bullpen. After all, he’s been one of the most durable and consistent starters of the last decade or so.
Of course, Javy isn’t the typical reliever. It’s been well documented that he’s lost zip on his fastball, which is something undesirable for a pitcher going out of the bullpen. This is something that we could see hurt Javy the reliever. After all, we always want a reliever to come out Kerry Wood style and just blow it by guys. With Javy’s decreased velocity, hitters could attack his fastball in high leverage situations and make a situation worse but…
…Javy’s starter’s pedigree gives him one thing that most relievers don’t have: a full arsenal. With more than just the two pitch offerings of most relievers (think D-Rob’s FB/CB combo), Vazquez will be more well equipped to keep his opponents off balance than his colleagues will. That gives me a good amount of confidence in Javy as a reliever.
I also doubt that, given his tendency towards the home run, Joe Girardi will use him in very high leverage situations. My guess is that he will be used like he was last night: in long relief situations when the starter has flamed out early or the bullpen has been spent in the last few days.
Regardless of his eventual usage, I have faith in Vazquez, his pitch selection, and his talent and I think he can succeed in the bullpen.
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