Late life on the fastball means a pitch that moves as it approaches the plate and appears to pick up speed on the way.
When you hear stuff like the ball stayed true to the plate or it seems like the ball is exploding, that is what transpired.
Last night, Javier Vazquez’s fastball featured that characteristic and during 4 2/3 relief innings, he threw 30 four-seam fastballs that averaged 89.37 and six two-seamers that averaged 88.6. Of those pitches, 24 were for strikes.
The reason Vazquez was so successful was because it had that life, it stayed true and didn’t stray away from the strike zone.
"It’s just life," Jorge Posada said. "After the ball left his arm, it seemed like the ball was exploding."
The cause of this renewed life in the fastball was caused by making a mechanical adjustment at the urging of pitching coach Dave Eiland. When Vazquez’s left leg is lifted in the delivery it is going further back
"Just Dave suggested that I should raise my left leg on the lineup, more towards the back a little bit. I’ve been working on it the last week, week and a half," Vazquez said.
So what does that mean? This is how Vazquez explained it.
"It allows me to stay back better and having momentum going forward," Vazquez said. "I’ve done it all my life and sometimes even though you’ve done it throughout your life, sometimes little things help and I’ve always been open to whatever the coaches think are helping."
It also resulted in a higher arm slot, which was evident on the first fastball of the night to Jack Cust with one out in the fifth. Vazquez’s first three fastballs were clocked at 90 then in the sixth, he threw five straight to Mark Ellis that ranged between 86 and 88.
Against Jeff Larish, Vazquez had two straight swinging strikes on fastballs clocked at 90 and had the first of his six strikeouts. Rajai Davis saw three fastballs and swung at one clocked at 92 for an inning-ending groundout.
Cliff Pennington saw one fastball before making the first out of the seventh on a changeup. Matt Carson saw two straight fastballs for strikes before striking out swinging on the curveball.
The eighth was among the few times Vazquez was beaten by the pitch when Cust singled up the middle. Larrish also beat Vazquez on the fastball with a ground-rule double.
In the ninth, the fastball was used to set up Pennington grounding out on a changeup,
Velocity is important but so is movement. In other words, if a pitcher can make that 88 mph fastball appear to be 90 or 91, then it could be his night.
Right now, Vazquez’s next appearance is unknown. In theory he could start Saturday against
If that happens, it will be interesting to see if Vazquez can consistently repeat that aspect of his mechanics.
Last Wednesday when he faced
Vazquez’s most dominant showing this year was July 10 in