34 years old
14th major league season
Bats R/Throws R
The 34-year old Javier Vazquez was drafted in the 5th round in the 1994 draft by the Expos, and is in his 14th major league season. He was a given to start 30+ games every year and throw 200+ innings before the Yankees traded for him before last season. Well, things didn't fare too well, as Vazquez lost his fastball (91-92 mph 2007-2009), and it dropped to 88 mph last year. Whether it was an injury, poor mechanics, or simply the result of throwing 2600+ innings in his major league career is unknown. But what was established was that a fly ball pitcher can not survive in the New Yankee Stadium throwing 88 mph. He finished 10-10 in 26 starts (5 relief appearance, for 157 innings), 5.32 ERA, 1.40 WHIP. His career best K/9 rate in 2009 with the Braves dropped to 6.92 in 2010, and his BB/9 rate doubled to a career worst (1.81 to 3.72). His HR/9 rate also doubled from 09 to 10 (0.82 to 1.83), which was a career worst.
So the biggest question this year is if Vazquez can re-discover his fastball velocity, and the Marlins are betting 7 million dollars that he does this season (as a side note, he has made 97 million dollars playing baseball over his career). The reports from the spring had Vazquez sitting between 90-92 mph, which is a level he could be successful (as well as benefitting from the weaker hitters in the NL vs the AL).
Vazquez throws from a 3/4 arm slot and has good command of a running/sinking fastball that he throws between 86-92 mph; he likes to throw it up in the zone with two strikes. He also throws a tight slider(82 mph), a big breaking curve-ball (73 mph) and a plus change-up (79 mph). Vazquez is an outstanding fielding pitcher. Last year he didn't have a single above average pitch, but over his previous few years, his most effective pitches were his curve and change.
Vazquez is 10-9 with a 3.16 ERA in 25 starts against the Mets lifetime, and was 1-1 with a 0.69 ERA and 0.69 WHIP in two starts against them last season (6 shutout innings in May, and 7 innings, 1 earned run in June). In 2009 with the Braves, he was also 1-1, but with a 4.61 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
So watch for his velocity and if he is able to sustain it throughout the game/season and you should have a good read on if he will be successful this year.