Can Vazquez return to 2009 form in Florida?

After a second disappointing stint with the New York Yankees, Javier Vazquez reportedly is returning to the National League, agreeing to a one-year contract with the Florida Marlins.

Javier Vazquez

VazquezThe Marlins are hoping that a return trip to the National League will solve Vazquez's problems from 2010. After a remarkable run with the Atlanta Braves in 2009 (2.87 ERA in 219⅓ innings, second in the NL with 238 strikeouts), Vazquez’s ERA nearly doubled in 2010 to 5.32 while throwing 62 fewer innings.

There was a clear reason for the diminished results, too -- diminished stuff. Vazquez’s fastball velocity dropped more than 2 mph, from 91.1 in 2009 to 88.7 in 2010. Consequently, his contact percentage went up, from 73.3 percent in 2009 to 81.1 percent in 2010. And, naturally, his strikeouts went down as well, from a robust 9.8 to just 6.9. His fastball velocity, contact percentage and home runs per nine innings were all the worst of his career.

Fewest IP Last Season
By Starting Pitchers

One plus over Vazquez’s 13-year career is the fact that he’s been extremely durable. In fact, since Vazquez came into the league in 1998, he has thrown 2,647⅓ innings. The only pitcher who has logged more innings since 1998 is Livan Hernandez (2,847).

If Vazquez can live up to his reputation as an innings-eater, it will come in very handy for the Marlins. Florida would benefit from a pitcher who simply soaks up innings, as the Marlins ranked near the bottom in innings pitched by starters (see chart).

Vazquez has also won at least 10 games in 11 straight seasons, that’s the longest current streak for any pitcher.