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The big Yankee question: Is Javy comfortable?

Posted on: May 21, 2010 11:42 pm
Edited on: May 22, 2010 1:53 am
 
NEW YORK -- It's crazy to think that Javier Vazquez can't pitch in the American League. He went 15-8 for the White Sox just three years ago.

It's a little hard to believe that Javier Vazquez simply can't pitch in New York. He made the All-Star team in his first go-round with the Yankees, off a 10-5, 3.56 first half.

It's perfectly believable, though, that Javier Vazquez has a bigger need than most pitchers to find his own personal comfort level. Get him in it, and you get a winning pitcher, capable of making the All-Star team and even getting Cy Young votes. Get him out of it, and you may as well get him out of town.

So now the big question: Are two strong starts, sandwiched around a one-out, four-pitch relief appearance, any sign that Vazquez is finally finding a comfort zone in this second go-round with the Yankees?

"I feel like I'm taking steps," Vazquez said after beating the Mets, 2-1, Friday night. "Hopefully, I'll start to pitch better."

His start against the Mets was curtailed after six innings, 70 pitches (and just one hit) by a bruised right index finger, suffered on a bunt attempt in the top of the sixth. Vazquez, who led the National League in sacrifices last year, was embarrassed to get hurt that way, but confident that he'll be able to make his next start, Thursday in Minnesota.

The Yankees will hope he can do it, even if some Yankee fans, with memories of his 2004 meltdown and his 9.78 ERA through five starts this year, would rather see anyone else pitch.

Some of those fans will no doubt attribute Vazquez's Friday night success to pitching against an NL team. They might be more correct than they know; the Mets made Vazquez look good by swinging early in the count, and rarely waiting for a good pitch to hit.

Vazquez's velocity has been down so far this year, and he topped out at 91 mph on Friday. But the fact still is that he has faced 47 batters over the last three appearances, allowing just nine of them to reach base and only two of them to score.

"I'm making better pitches," he said. "That's the bottom line. I think I'm making more quality pitches."

The Yankees skipped Vazquez for a start at Fenway Park, and then after a rainout in Detroit that gave them options with their rotation, they chose not to have him face the Red Sox or Rays this week at Yankee Stadium.

Eventually, he'll need to pitch at home (before fans who may well boo if things don't go well), and he'll need to face the best teams in the American League East.

But maybe it's possible that he is settling in, getting comfortable, and that he'll become the solid starter that the Yankees thought they were trading for. Add him into a rotation that includes CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes, and perhaps the Yankees will really be five-deep in quality starters.

If so, Joe Girardi is the one who will feel comfortable.


Category: MLB
Comments

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