With the suspension of Domingo German leaving the Yankees short-staffed, they’ll turn to their farm once again to try to supplement their rotation. After getting off to a rough start in Spring Training and Triple-A, Randy Vásquez strung together a few strong starts, impressing the Yankees enough to get him the nod on Friday night at the stadium. The 24-year-old international free agent signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2018, where he’s had ups and downs with command and consistency while flashing elite-level stuff. With a 4.85 ERA and 50 strikeouts across 42.2 IP in Scranton, he’ll look to brush that slow start off and try to handle the star-studded San Diego Padres.
Boasting a diverse and impressive arsenal, there’s plenty to dive into with the Dominican-born rookie.
Can the Yankees Unlock His Enticing Arsenal?
Randy Vásquez possesses a strong arsenal of pitches including three different fastball variants, a changeup, and his highly-touted curveball. So far in Scranton, we’ve seen Vásquez use his sinker the most at 32%, signifying that he mixes in all five of his pitches extremely well. One of the biggest additions Vásquez has made to his repertoire is his cutter, a pitch that’s supposed to help him generate more swings and thus more chases and soft contact. As explained in my Clay Holmes article, generating swings is a positive for pitchers, and while at first, Vásquez struggled to locate and keep the ball in the ballpark, he’s found comfort in his arsenal.
His cutter generates 4.2 inches of glove-side movement, balancing between his sinker and curveball which have large movement profiles. Vásquez throws the aforementioned sinker at 93.7 MPH, with 15.1 inches of arm-side run into the hands of right-handed batters and away from left-handed ones. His four-seamer is on paper just a dead zone fastball, meaning it’s extremely hittable and easy to track for hitters, but it’s generated plenty of swings and misses in spite of poor shape.
With a 30.2% Whiff% and 31.6% Called Strike + Whiff%, the pitch is a primary weapon against left-handed hitters to set up some vertical deception and establish the upper quadrants of the strike zone. He’s also hitting higher velocity totals on the pitch as of late, sitting at roughly 95 MPH in his last two starts, increasing his average velocity on the pitch to 94.5 MPH on the season, and bringing it’s effectiveness up as well.
His changeup plays well off of the fastball, generating 11.5 inches of vertical separation and a disgusting 18.1 inches of arm-side run, though batters haven’t whiffed much at it on the season, and they’re hitting it hard as well. It seems to be an issue with command, as the shape on the pitch would suggest that he’s due for positive regression on the pitch, but that remains to be seen. That being said, while those four pitches are intriguing, it’s the curveball that serves as his deadliest weapon, and why he’s garnered buzz from those involved in the Yankees’ organization.
His breaking ball has been his go-to pitch since he broke into professional baseball, a high-spinning whirly that averages nearly 3,000 RPMs of spin. The pitch has only gotten better as the season has gone on, as the horizontal sweep on the pitch has gone up from early on in the season. Vásquez has a 2.81 ERA and 25.8% K% in those three starts, walking just 7.6% of batters faced in the process and not allowing a single home run. The ability to get a great feel of his best pitch has allowed him to turn around a disasterous start to the season where he had allowed five home runsa nd walked 16 batters in just 21.2 IP.
The sharpness of his breaking pitch will determine his success on a start-to-start basis, and that consistency is something that the Yankees need to hammer out. He’s a supremely talented pitcher, and if the Yankees can figure out his consistency on the mound, they’ll have an interesting rotation piece on their hands.
He’ll likely only be up for one start, as not only is he not a finished product, but as evidenced by Brito’s brilliant debut, a one start sample size is not nearly enough to conclude a pitcher’s readiness for the big leagues. That being said, if he can give the Yankees a strong outing, suddenly their bullpen can catch a breather as it continues to slog through a myriad of injuries. It’s an exciting day for Randy Vásquez, as he’ll go toe-to-toe with MVP candidates like Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr. in the Bronx on Friday night.