Alright, So I stumbled across an article on mlbnotebook.com today that discusses the success of some of Braves starting pitchers Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrgens.
While the majority of the article was spot on, there was a small part regarding Javier Vasquez that would have been true in the past, but doesn't really reflect how he's pitched in 2009.
I 've already commented on Lowe not being the ace Atlanta hoped he would be. Lowe hasn't done much since then to alter that opinion. He's been up and down this season when Atlanta hoped he'd be up all season. Javier Vazquez has been equally mediocre this season, but with a better ERA. Despite the disappointment found in the less than ace-like performances of Lowe and Vazquez, two new aces are emerging for the Braves
First off, the article is accurate in that Lowe has been a disappointment. Second, while Vasquez has had many seasons where the assessment of him as a mediocre pitcher would be accurate, 2009 has not been one of those years. When you break it down by the numbers, Vasquez has performed either the same or better than Hanson and Jurrgens in several statistical areas.
I'll start with the most telling stat, ERA plus to show where Hanson, Jurrgens and Vasquez rank in the context of this season.
So, Vasquez ranks last out of the three in this. Still, his performance is still in the same ball park as Hanson and Jurrgens. Still, within the context of the rest of the league, his era is 36% above league average. Vasquez is definitely not guilty of mediocrity in this aspect.
Next, there's the part where Vasquez has pitched well enough to be in the top 10 in several pitching metrics this year
When the only pitchers giving up less base runners per inning are Haren, Carpenter and Lincecum, you aren't just better than mediocre, you are having a very excellent season. Alright so Vasquez ain't headed towards Cooperstown with his overall body of work...but placed in the context of 2009 he'd be more likely to get Cy Young consideration than to be placed with the mediocre tag.
Walks/9 IP-1.911 -5th
Strikeouts/Base On Balls-5.2-2nd
For this year (at least) Vasquez has displayed a rare combination of not walking very many people while racking up a high amount of strikeouts. Considering that only 6 pitchers (including Vasquez) have even managed to strike out 4 for every 1 that they walk.......Vasquez should be getting more attention for having a great season.
In all fairness, Vasquez success this season has gone highly under the radar. It took me a couple of months to realize that he had the chance to have a season like this. I didn't really catch on to him being in the leader board for strikeouts until somewhere around the beginning of June.
If Vasquez would have either a) gotten more run support (and wins) or b) playing for a playoff bound team........he would be getting at least some Cy Young attention that's currently being split between the Cards and Giants 1-2 combos.