The Yankees have four starters with an ERA in the top 20 in the American League (ridiculously good). Their fifth? Well, he has the highest ERA in the majors (9.78).
So why in the world would I think the Yankees should start Javier Vazquez on Friday against their archrivals when they have the option to start their best current three starters?
I have a few reasons.
- It’s still May, folks. The Yankees are 1.5 games behind the Rays in the AL East, and that’s with their Nos. 2-3 hitters batting a combined .169. If Vazquez goes on a five-game slump like this in September, of course, he skips a start or is off the playoff roster.
- Pitching in a real game changes everything. Any pitcher can tell you it doesn’t matter how good you look in the bullpen three days before a start — or even three minutes before a start. When you walk out to the mound in front of 40,000 people with a batter in the box, it’s an entirely different atmosphere. If Vazquez threw a no-hitter in a simulated game in Tampa, would he really have restored his confidence? I doubt it.
Resting him will do him no good. He still has a bullpen session in between starts to try and work out his mechanics problem. He’s a 13-year vet who finished fourth in Cy Young voting last year, not some rook.
- The Red Sox are awful right now. They just got swept by the team with the worst record in baseball (the Orioles, who still have the worst record after the sweep). Guess who’s in line to start on Friday for Boston? Daisuke Matsuzaka. You know, the guy who allowed six earned runs in his season debut Saturday? They also have to play on Thursday, so their bullpen’s probably going to be tired.
- It’s at Fenway Park. Even if he does continue to slump, he won’t hear as many boos. Red Sox fans are unforgiving too, so the pressure will be on Dice-K.
- Maybe he’ll be like Mark Teixeira. A lot of times it’s tough for new Yankees to handle the New York spotlight right out of the gates.