Commentary

What's with Javier Vazquez?

Yankees don't know what to expect from inconsistent right-hander

Updated: August 21, 2010, 7:20 PM ET
By Andrew Marchand | ESPNNewYork.com

NEW YORK -- One of the main Yankees October storylines can be written here in August and it is all about body parts.

Can CC Sabathia's enormous shoulders compensate for Andy Pettitte's groin, A.J. Burnett's head and Phil Hughes' arm? What about Javy Vazquez, you say?

Nobody knows what is exactly wrong with Vazquez. Two weeks ago, pitching coach Dave Eiland thought it was a "dead arm," but Vazquez says his arm is fine.

Javy Vazquez
Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesJavier Vazquez's velocity was down against the Mariners on Saturday.

Beyond that, Vaquez has no answers for his regression that has made August suddenly feel like April for him.

"I wish I knew," Vazquez said after his teammates saved him in a 9-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners.

With the Yankees starting staff deteriorating they have recalled prospect Ivan Nova to start Monday, but Nova is not looked at as a season saver.

What it all may mean is when Sabathia isn't on the mound, the Yankees may have to mash their way to championship No. 28.

On Saturday Vazquez again looked awful, lacking velocity and command and lasting only three innings while giving up three homers, including the first upper-deck shot at the new Yankee Stadium and he walked off, making August not only look like April, but sound like it, too, as boos rung in his ears.

In April, he was 1-3 with a 9.00 ERA. This month, he is 0-3 with an 8.10 ERA.

Against the worst offensive team in baseball, Vazquez allowed Ichiro Suzuki to nail two homers off him, while Russell Branyan hit the mammoth upper-deck shot.

To start the game, Ichiro smashed Vazquez to the point that Girardi couldn't bear to watch one more mismatch at-bat by the fourth. Girardi had already witnessed, Ichiro nail a 2-0, 84 mph meatball to start the game.

"At times, his first couple of fastballs in an inning are slower than the others," Girardi said. "It seems like that maybe it takes him a little bit to get going." In the third, Girardi saw Ichiro deposit a 1-0, 77 mph misplaced changeup into the right field seats. Girardi said that Vazquez was in and out with his command of his changeup.

Between Ichiro's shots, Branyan hit the farthest home run in the 17-month history of this Yankee Stadium. Branyan crushed a 3-1, 86 mph fastball into the upper deck. In right, Nick Swisher didn't even move until the ball was in the fourth deck.

Before the game, Girardi tried to play down Vazquez's struggles. Vazquez had been pitching well prior to this month.

"This has only become an issue because he stopped winning games," Girardi said. "When he won nine out of 10 starts his velocity was 88, 89. At times, it was 85 and 86. When he lost, a couple people started talking about his velocity. You can make something out of nothing. His velocity has not been 91 to 93 all year long. So, to me, to get caught up in that is kind of silly. The bottom line is you have to make your pitches. You have to locate. If you do that at 82, you are going to get people out."

Vazquez is not doing anything right this month. When Pettitte comes back, Vazquez will be a question mark going into the playoffs. The Yankees don't know what they can expect from Burnett or Hughes, leaving it for now all on the Sabathia's shoulders.

Andrew Marchand covers baseball for ESPNNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

More from ESPNNewYork.com

Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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