Javier Vazquez looked incredibly sharp in last night’s relief appearance, going 4.2 innings while allowing one run on two hits and 6 strikeouts. He looked sharper than he had since August started, and credited the change to a mechanical tweak made by Dave Eiland:
There is a slight mechanical adjustment that seems to be helping Vazquez’s fastball. When he lifts his left leg in his delivery, Vazquez is bringing the leg farther back. It’s not more of a twist, he said, and the leg’s not coming up any higher, it’s just coming a little farther back toward second base.
“The arm angle also has to play a part of it, but (pitching coach Dave Eiland) feels like that’s going to give me better momentum, and it has,” Vazquez said. “The ball was true to where I wanted it to be.”
The mechanical change had tangible results, as Javy’s stuff was noticeably sharper than it had been in recent weeks. Unlike Javy’s starts in August, during which he was battling a dead arm and averaged 88 MPH on his fastball, Javy was close to 90 MPH (89.37) with his fastball. He threw 30 four seamers, including 19 for strikes with 3 swinging strikes, and 6 two seamers which netted 5 strikes. His breaking stuff was even better, as he threw 7 of his 10 changeups for strikes (2 swinging), 13 of his 17 curveballs for strikes (3 swinging), and 2 of his 3 sliders for swinging strikes. He had swing and miss stuff last night, as he got 10 swinging strikes among his 66 pitches (15.1%).
The question is, what is the next step with Javy? I have seen some people state that the team should take it slow with him and let him work in the bullpen for a bit longer to make sure he is equipped to start again. I disagree, and feel that he should take Dustin Moseley’s next turn. Javy was excellent from the middle of May through July, a stretch that constituted the bulk of his season. He lost his starting spot due to a dead arm that resulted in 4 atrocious starts, rather than due to an extended period of ineffectiveness. Now that his velocity is back up and his breaking stuff looks sharper, I see no reason to believe that Dustin Moseley will be the more effective starter going forward.