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Scott Pianowski

What's wrong with Javier Vazquez?

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If you want to quickly split the room and get people on both sides of an argument, bring up Javier Vazquez(notes). He's polarizing. And for fantasy owners in 2010, he's a maddening case.

Vazquez has made five starts with the Yankees this year and none of them have been successful; there are crooked numbers all over the place. An ERA over 9, a WHIP over 2, eight homers allowed, 15 walks in 23 innings. Even with 20 strikeouts, these are unacceptable numbers; fantasy owners need to bench this guy until he gets right.

So what's wrong with Vazquez, anyway? Throw a dart and pick out a theory.

He's hurt. The velocity on his average fastball has dropped significantly, down 2.2 mph from last year. That's a red flag for sure.

His mechanics are off. That's been Joe Girardi's spin all year, and MLB Fanhouse scout Frankie Piliere has an interesting breakdown here. (Mechanical problems are a great first excuse for anything. Next time I'm called out for something, I'm blaming my mechanics. Bad article? My typing mechanics were off.)

He's been somewhat unlucky. Here's the crux of the Great Vazquez Debate (Fack Youk tackles it here), why does his ERA consistently lag behind what the peripherals suggest? It's happened in all but two seasons, and his years ahead of the number were ever-so-slight. As bad as Vazquez has been in 2010, his xFIP suggests an ERA in the mid-5s, a significant improvement. His HR/FB rate is a crazy 22.2 percent, and he's also got a high BABIP and a low strand rate. How much do we blame him for these things?

He can't handle the pressure of New York. This is another hot-button topic with Vazquez. Does the glare of a big city get to him? Is it pitching for a contender, as Kevin Kaduk proposed last September? Does he wilt when things get hot on the mound? Or are these merely coincidences?

(I vividly remember Vazquez having a Little Leaguer's meltdown on National TV after an infielder misplay a few years ago; I half-expected Vazquez to throw his glove or kick a teammate in the shins. Does a quick emotional trigger affect how he pitches in clutch situations, or is this just confirmation bias at play?)

He's not cut out to pitch in the American League. Curt Schilling(notes) pushed this theory earlier in the week and as usual, Schill didn't pull any punches.

What should fantasy owners do about all this? Buy low? Sell low? Wait it out? Have another dish of Yankee Schadenfreude? Punt? What should the Yankees do? Skip him when his turn comes up in Boston on Friday? Quietly open trade talks? Bring in Kate Hudson? Buy Javy an ice cream cone?

I'm not invested in Vazquez this year, but I want to help out. I've asked a lot of questions, but I want us to find the answers. Let's try to solve the puzzle.

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