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Declining fastball velocity makes Javier Vazquez no sure thing to bounce back in Florida

Nov 29, 2010, 2:16 PM EDT

Javier Vazquez

Javier Vazquez signing a one-year, $7 million deal with the Marlins has seemingly everyone assuming that he’ll fare well going back to the NL and away from New York, and admittedly that was my first thought as well.

After all, Vazquez has a 4.02 ERA in eight career seasons in the NL, compared to 4.65 in four AL seasons, and was an elite starter for the Braves in 2009 with a 2.87 ERA in 219 innings.

However, as David Cameron of Fan Graphs notes Vazquez’s struggles with the Yankees may have had more to do with his declining fastball velocity than his inability to pitch in New York.

His average fastball fell from 91.1 miles per hour in 2009 to 88.7 mph this season as Vazquez posted the lowest ground-ball percentage of his career and served up 34 homers in just 157 innings while batters made contact on more than 80 percent of their swings against him for the first time.

Going from the AL to the NL and from the Yankees’ power-boosting ballpark to the Marlins’ pitcher-friendly home will no doubt help Vazquez, but at age 35 and with his fastball ranking among the slowest in baseball this season it’s also possible that he’s simply no longer as good as he used to be.

  1. Jonny 5 - Nov 29, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    Go talk to Jamie Moyer. He’ll show him what to do with his not so fast fastball. I watched him befuddle the Yanks not so long ago, and his velocity was wayyyy lower than Javier’s. I guess it’s time to work on your movement Javier, If you wanna continue as a starter…

  2. Utley's Hair - Nov 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    So…what you’re saying is he wasn’t too bright taking a one-year $7 million deal over a two-year $20 million deal? You can be so rude, Aaron!!!

  3. Old Gator - Nov 29, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    I was just beginning to relax about this, and a nano-sized drop of bonhomie for the Scrooge McLoria Regime was forming in the little depression atop each key of my keyboard, and Gleeman goes and perforates my K-shell like that. Pffffffttttttt, you can hear the quarks leaking out. But Johnny5 has a thought: can Javy become the next ageless junkballer?

    As of now I haven’t seen anything about him passing his required physical. Tick, tick, tick….

  4. BC - Nov 29, 2010 at 3:46 PM

    This guy has had one really good year in his career. Other than that, he’s a .500 pitcher who throws a ton of innings. I wouldn’t touch him – too much tread off of the tires after that many miles.

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