A Tale of Two Pitchers
Lets have some fun today and play, “Name that Pitcher.” I will set out some statistics from a currently active pitcher or pitchers, and you see if you can figure out who they are. I will, of course, provide you with the correct answer after I list the statistics.
This pitcher is 33 years old, has pitched for 12 seasons, has never won more than 16 games in a season, and has a career won-lost record of 142-139 for a win/loss percentage of .505. His career ERA is 4.19. He has pitched in only one All-Star game, and he has finished in the top five in Cy Young voting only once.
While you are sorting through those stats, lets take a quick look at another pitcher.
This one has also pitched for 12 seasons and has 2,253 K’s, including five seasons of 200 or more K’s, plus two other seasons over 190 K’s. He has the 16th best K / BB Ratio ever at 3.47, better than Greg Maddux, Christy Mathewson and Sandy Koufax. He also has the 26th best K/9 innings ratio of all-time, averaging 8.14 strikeouts per nine innings. Lastly, his career WHIP is a respectable 1.245.
So who are these two pitchers? If you guessed that they are both Javier Vazquez, you are correct. He is a tale of two pitchers, being tough to hit, piling up lots of K’s, walking very few batters, but still managing to find a way to give up more runs than his level of talent should allow, and paying the price with a career .500 win-lost record.
So what can the Yankees expect from Vazquez now that they’ve pried him away from the Braves? Well, his first go-round with the Yankees in 2004 was a disaster, which is why it’s ironic that his one previous season with the Yanks was the only time he ever made an All-Star team. But such are the perks for pitching in New York.
As a National League pitcher, Vazquez has a 90-93 record and an ERA of 4.02. In the A.L., his win-lost record improves to 52-46, but his ERA goes up half a run to 4.52. His peripheral numbers (K’s/9 innings, etc.) are virtually the same in both leagues. He has pitched almost twice as many innings in the N.L. as he has in the A.L.
As a Yankee in 2004, he finished 14-10 in 198 innings, with only 150 strikeouts, one of the lowest totals of his career.
He is probably a better, more professional pitcher today than he was back in ’04. Last season, remember, he finished in the top five in Cy Young voting pitching for the Braves. And the Yanks aren’t looking for Vazquez to be their ace; C.C. Sabathia already handles that role quite well.
It is conceivable that Vazquez could win around seventeen games, which would actually represent a new career high for him. The Yankees should, after all, be able to provide plenty of run support, and Mariano Rivera awaits his call in the ninth inning.
His K rate won’t be as high as it was last year when he fanned 238 batters, but it should be a lot better than the 150 K’s he managed in 2004. So look for between 190-210 K’s to go along with a win-lost record of around 16-13.
Although he’ll pitch a few gems here and there against teams like the Royals, A’s, etc., he will probably get bounced early from a few starts against the better hitting teams in the A.L. His 2.87 ERA last season, a career best, should rise to somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.80-4.20.
Overall, the Yankees appear to have a solid, reliable number #2 starter to fit into a rotation that rounds itself out with A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte. And it appears to match up well with the Red Sox rotation of Lester, Beckett, Lackey and Dice-K.
It all depends, of course, on which Javier Vazquez dons the pin-stripes in 2010.