I was as excited as anyone for Vazquez's arrival. I have routinely postulated that a solid season from Javier could prove to be the difference maker on this team. There was no way I was missing this game. I'd never actually seen Javy pitch. I wanted to see how the Yankees' newest acquisition would fare in his return to pinstripes.
The knee-jerk reaction would be "not well." This isn't true, at least with respect to the first four innings. David Price of the Rays was dealing; Vazquez matched him for almost half the game.
Vazquez's stuff surprised me, in part because it never crossed my mind to research what kind of pitcher he was. I recognized immediately why he gives up a lot of home runs. Javy doesn't have much velocity. His fastball seems to top out at 91 mph. In that respect he reminds me of Andy Pettitte. To compensate for the lack of speed, Vazquez uses four pitches and needs to keep them DOWN IN THE ZONE. Read that last part again, because if he elevates his fastball, it is an 89 mph line drive waiting to happen.
And that's what happened. After four innings Vazquez lost his composure (perhaps he got tired?), started missing spots, and got shelled. The Yankee Universe may respond harshly to this one data point, but Javy's performance mirrors CC's and A.J.'s only on a larger scale. My take away is that three of the team's four starters pitched well for the first halves of their first starts, but lost it down the stretch. Hopefully in a start or two all four will be at full strength.
Which brings us to today's game. Last season served as one more reminder that April games don't matter much. But if a fan is going to give any importance to an early season game at all then this is one to watch. CC Sabathia makes his second start of the season for the Yankees. The Rays will counter with Wade Davis.
CC's first performance was a mirror of Vazquez's. He was solid until the 6th inning, when he fell apart. How well he recovers may reflect on the team's ability to put forward a solid performance during a tough April stretch. The game also will serve as a bit of diagnostic on the hitters right now. Even though its early, these are competitive people. Are the Yankees together enough to come back after a tough loss?
For the Rays, Davis is a bit of an unknown. Like Price he is a young starter. Unlike Price, Davis doesn't have much of a record to date. This may not bode well for the bombers, who did not hit against rookie pitchers last season.
Game's on Fox, at 3pm.