The 33-year old Javier Vasquez was drafted in the 5th round in the 1994 draft by the Expos, and is in his 13th major league season. He's started 32+ games every year since 2000, and has thrown 200+ innings in nine of the last 10 years (the one year he missed he threw 198 innings). He has a career 4.22 ERA, with an exceptional K/9 rate (8.15) and minimizes walks (2.38 W/9). He has been victimized by the long ball, and his career FIP is 3.87. Last year he was phenomenal with the Braves, and it was the best year of his career. He had a 2.87 ERA (2.77 FIP), with a K/9 rate of 9.77 and 1.81 W/9. He finished in the top 4 of the Cy Young voting. Vazquez is 10-8 with a 3.24 ERA in 24 starts against the Mets lifetime, and was 1-1 with a 4.61 ERA in two starts against them last season.
Vasquez throws from a 3/4 arm slot and has good command of a running/sinking fastball that he throws between 89-93 mph; he likes to throw it up in the zone with two strikes. He also throws a tight slider (83 mph), a big breaking curve-ball (74 mph) and a plus change-up (80 mph). Vasquez is also an outstanding fielding pitcher. His mental make-up has been questioned, and he definitely fared better last year with low-key Bobby Cox (as well as the weaker league) than the previous year of "in your face" Ozzie Guillen and the White Sox.
Before the 1st Subway Series, Vasquez had struggled and the Yankee fans had made him hear it. He was 2-4 with an 8.01 ERA and 1.78 WHIP. He did get a one out win when he appeared as a reliever versus the Red Sox (May 17th). He is continuing to strike out hitters at an above average rate (8.29 K/9), but his walk rate is terrible (5.04 W/9). He has also once again fallen victim to the long ball (8 HR in 30 innings). Why such a drastic change? Whether he is injured or if it's his mechanics, his fastball velocity has fallen 2.5 MPH from last year. His average fastball is now 89 MPH. Nothing else has changed (pitches/velocity/usage of his pitches). His only pitches that has been above average this year have been his fastball and slider.
Update June 18: He faced the Mets on May 21st, and threw 6 brilliant innings, allowing only one hit and two walks, while striking out six, before leaving the game due to poor bunting technique (pitch hit his finger). He's gone 7 innings in each of his last three starts, and he is now 6-5 with a 5.43 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He has decreased his walk rate to 3.86, which is still double last year's rate, but better than 5+ in May, and he struggles with teams that are dominated by left-handed hitters (walking > 5 per 9 innings of left-handed hitters). He is still giving up home runs at the highest rate of his career (13 in 63 innings).
With all that said, he's been a completely different pitcher since May 12th, as his ERA is 2.92 and 0.93 WHIP since then, with 38 strike-outs and only 12 walks in 40 innings. I wonder if Yankee fans realize this or if they will still boo him after a bad outing because of 2004...