Esmerling Vasquez: 2013 Minnesota Twins Starting Rotation Candidate?

By Brad Berreman
Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

The Minnesota Twins are–and will be–auditioning starting rotation candidates prior to Opening Day 2013, and multiple pitchers have gotten opportunities as this season winds down.

One such pitcher to get an opportunity this month is Esmerling Vasquez, who made his third start for the Twins on Friday night against the American League Central-leading Chicago White Sox.

After Friday night’s outing, where he allowed three runs on three hits over 5.2 innings along with four strikeouts and four walks, Vasquez is now 0-2 with a 7.54 ERA in 14.1 innings over the aforementioned three starts for Minnesota.

He pitched well overall for Triple-A Rochester this season, going 9-6 with a 2.78 ERA over 31 appearances (eight starts). He started the season in the bullpen with Rochester, but went 4-2 with a 2.93 ERA when he was called upon to start and that certainly grabbed the attention of the Twins’ brass and earned him a promotion.

Over the three seasons prior to 2012, Vasquez pitched in 141 games out of the bullpen with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and had a 5-10 record and a 4.66 ERA over that span. His minor league track record is more extensive, including this season, with a 37-35 record and a 4.26 ERA in 225 total appearances (70 starts) over nine seasons.

It’s safe to say Vasquez is what he is as a pitcher at this point, for better or worse, since he will turn 29 in November and his career peripheral numbers are fairly similar at the minor league level and the major league level (7.7 K/9 and 5.4 BB/9 in the big leagues; 8.5 K/9, 4.6 BB/9 in the minors). That said, the Twins should be willing to give him a chance during spring training next year and he could earn a spot in the starting rotation or the bullpen.

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