The Yankees have reacquired starting pitcher Javier Vazquez from the Atlanta Braves, bringing back the starter who last pitched for New York in 2004.
Most pitchers moving from the NL to the AL are mysteries and hard to predict, but we do have four years of pitching in the AL to examine. Aside from pitching for the Yanks in 2004, Javy pitched for the White Sox from 2006-2008.
2004: 14-10, 4.91 ERA, 6.82 K/9, 2.50 K/BB, .284 BABIP, 4.78 FIP, 4.44 xFIP
2006: 11-12, 4.84 ERA, 8.17 K/9, 3.29 K/BB, .321 BABIP, 3.86 FIP, 4.05 xFIP
2007: 15-08, 3.74 ERA, 8.85 K/9, 4.26 K/BB, .297 BABIP, 3.80 FIP, 3.72 xFIP
2008: 12-16, 4.67 ERA, 8.64 K/9, 3.28 K/BB, .328 BABIP, 3.74 FIP, 3.85 xFIP
Yankee fans will remember Vazquez’s down year with the Yankees when he first came into the American League, but he did pitch very well for the White Sox for three seasons. His FIP and his ERA have never quite agreed with each other, with all signs pointing to Javy being a better pitcher than what we saw in the AL during ’06-’08. Some fans will be going off his Yankee numbers instead of his overall AL numbers, and don’t let it be you. That year in New York was blip in the radar of Vazquez’s overall success.
Javy isn’t a ground ball specialist, but a career GB% near 40% is not the worst thing in the world for a strikeout pitcher. But, playing in New Yankee Stadium changes things. He will have to make sure to keep the ball down more if he doesn’t want balls flying out of the yard.
The defense behind Vazquez is solid, so that shouldn’t be a worry for fantasy owners. His outfield defense will be good enough to chase down the flies that stay in the yard, so put this issue completely out of mind.
It’s hard to advocate drafting a #3 starter as high as Vazquez will be going in drafts, but this is a unique situation. Vazquez’s strikeouts will drop down a touch in 2010, but 17 wins, 200 K’s, and a 3.50 ERA are all reasonable to expect next season.