Felipe Javier Vázquez (born Felipe Javier Rivero, July 5, 1991), nicknamed Nightmare, is a Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Washington Nationals. He was an All-Star in 2018 and 2019.
Vázquez with the Pirates in 2017
|Pittsburgh Pirates – No. 73|
|Born: July 5, 1991|
San Felipe, Yaracuy, Venezuela
|April 17, 2015, for the Washington Nationals|
|MLB statistics |
(through September 18, 2019)
|Earned run average||2.61|
|Career highlights and awards|
Minor Leagues (2009–2015)
Vázquez signed with the Tampa Bay Rays as an international free agent on July 30, 2008. He represented the Rays at the 2012 All-Star Futures Game. He was added to the Rays' 40-man roster on November 20, 2012.
On February 13, 2014, Vázquez was traded to the Washington Nationals, along with José Lobatón and Drew Vettleson, in exchange for Nate Karns. He suffered through elbow inflammation during the season, and was limited to 14 games started. After the 2014 regular season, the Nationals assigned Vázquez to the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League.
Washington Nationals (2015–2016)
On April 17, 2015, Vázquez made his major league debut by coming in to pitch the top of the ninth inning in a 7–2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. He pitched one inning, allowing two hits and one run while striking out two batters. He went on the disabled list due to gastrointestinal bleeding on April 22. On June 1, the Nationals called up Vázquez to the major leagues from Syracuse. At the end of the season, Vázquez was able to reach 100 miles per hour (160 km/h) with his fastball in relief. In 49 games for the Nationals, he pitched in 48 1⁄3 innings, posting a 2–1 record with a 2.79 ERA. With Jonathan Papelbon suspended and Drew Storen injured, Vázquez converted two save opportunities during the final week of the season. He finished the season with a 2.79 earned run average.
During the 2016 season, Vázquez's ERA reached a peak at 6.82 following a game on June 18 where he allowed all six batters he pitched to to reach base. In the next 13 appearances, he had a 0.93 ERA to lower his season ERA to 4.53.
Pittsburgh Pirates (2016–present)
Vázquez began the 2017 season as a setup reliever. After a 0.58 ERA in 31 games, on June 9 he was named co-closer for the Pirates along with Juan Nicasio, replacing Tony Watson. Vázquez later assumed primary closing duties, with Nicasio becoming the eighth-inning setup man. Vázquez was 5–3 with a 1.67 ERA, and earned 21 saves in 23 opportunities in 2017. His fastest pitch of 2017 was 102.6 miles an hour, second-best in MLB only to pitches by Aroldis Chapman. Of all MLB pitchers, he held left-handed batters to the lowest batting average, .082 (in 20 or more innings).
2018–19: All-Star seasons
Before the 2018 season, Vázquez signed a four-year contract with the Pirates, with club options for another two years. In 2018, Vázquez was selected to play in the 2018 All-Star Game, his first All-Star appearance. For the season, he was 4–2 with 37 saves and a 2.70 ERA.
In an April 7, 2019, game against the Cincinnati Reds, Vázquez was ejected after his role in a bench-clearing incident involving Chris Archer, Derek Dietrich, Yasiel Puig, Amir Garrett, Keone Kela, and David Bell. Vázquez was selected for the 2019 All-Star Game, as a roster replacement for Zack Greinke. On September 10, Vázquez and Kyle Crick got into a clubhouse fight; Crick broke his finger, requiring season-ending surgery. On September 17, the Pirates placed Vázquez on the restricted list, due to his arrest on multiple charges of unlawful contact with a minor. At the time, his record for the season was 5–1 with a 1.65 ERA and 28 saves. He was also placed on administrative leave by Major League Baseball.
Vázquez throws a fastball which can reach over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h). Vázquez's fastball averaged 96.4 miles per hour (155.1 km/h) in 2016 and around 98 miles per hour (158 km/h) in 2017. As a prospect with the Rays, Vázquez initially threw only 86 miles per hour (138 km/h). He also throws an effective changeup at 89–90 miles per hour (143–145 km/h) with two-seam movement, which he picked up in the Rays minor league system. Vázquez began throwing it frequently in 2015, and uses it around 25 percent of the time. The pitch has been referred to as a "Bugs Bunny changeup" by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. Vázquez also throws a slider and a curveball.
In 2018, he changed his last name from Rivero to Vázquez to match the surname of his sister, citing that she had been a big part of his career.
Legal troubles and child sex charges
Vázquez was arrested on September 17, 2019, on charges of computer pornography, specifically alleging that he solicited a child and provided obscene material to minors, regarding an alleged sexual relationship he had with a 13-year-old female from Lee County, Florida. Hours later, Vázquez was charged with statutory sexual assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and indecent assault of a person less than 16 years old related to a separate incident in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. Vázquez admitted that in 2017, when the girl was 13 years old, he had a sexual encounter with her that he described as "sex, but not really" because he could not fully insert his penis into her vagina after a minute of trying. He also admitted to sending nude photos of himself and videos of himself engaged in sexual activities to the girl.
- Berry, Adam (August 6, 2019). "Vazquez's 'Nightmare' name has off-field origin". MLB mlb.com.
- "Felipe Vazquez Stats, Highlights, Bio | MiLB.com Stats | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". MiLB.com.
- "Promising Rays duo cued for Futures Game". Mlb.mlb.com. June 20, 2012. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- "Rays add four players to 40-man roster". Tampabay.rays.mlb.com. November 20, 2012. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
- "Nationals acquire catcher Jose Lobaton, LHP Felipe Rivero and OF Drew Vettleson from Tampa Bay". Curly W Live. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- Wagner, James (February 27, 2014). "Felipe Rivero, acquired in Jose Lobaton-Nate Karns trade, adjusting to the Nationals". Washington Post. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- Wagner, James (March 6, 2016). "Felipe Rivero, thrust into a reliever's role, now sees himself as a future closer". Washington Post. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- "Byron Kerr: Felipe Rivero with bounceback win for Mesa". MASNsports. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- "2015 Syracuse Chiefs: pitching is a plus, offense will be a work in progress". syracuse.com. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- "Felipe Rivero makes major league debut". Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- "Nationals call up Matt Grace, put Felipe Rivero on the DL, trade Xavier Cedeño". Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
- Wagner, James (June 1, 2015). "Felipe Rivero recalled, Matt Grace optioned to Syracuse". Washington Post. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- Spector, Jesse (July 30, 2016). "Mark Melancon trade could be National disaster if Felipe Rivero pans out". Sporting News. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- "Nationals land closer Melancon from Pirates". MLB.com. July 30, 2016. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
- Berry, Adam (March 7, 2017). "Rivero has 'nasty' arsenal of pitches: Reliever one of three lefty hurlers in Majors to hit 100 mph in 2016". MLB.com. Bradenton, Florida. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Sheinin, Dave (June 7, 2017). "Former Nats reliever Felipe Rivero can throw 101 mph, and that's not even his best pitch". The Washington Post. Baltimore. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- "Tony Watson out as closer as Pirates turn to Felipe Rivero and Juan Nicasio". ESPN.com. June 9, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- RotoWire (June 9, 2017). "Pirates' Felipe Rivero: Will share closer duties". CBS Sports. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Berry, Adam (August 31, 2017). "Bucs part ways with Nicasio; Phils make claim: Pittsburgh opts to place reliever on outright waivers instead of make trade". MLB.com. Pittsburgh. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- RotoWire (October 1, 2017). "Pirates' Felipe Rivero: Picks up 21st save". CBS Sports. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- "Statcast | MLB.com". M.mlb.com. May 24, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- "Splits Leaderboards". FanGraphs. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- "Pirates sign closer Felipe Rivero to 4-year deal". USA Today. January 18, 2018. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- Berry, Adam (July 8, 2018). "Felipe Vazquez selected to NL All-Star team". MLB.com. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- John Boyle, Staff Writer. "WATCH: Reds manager David Bell, Yasiel Puig ejected after brawl vs. Pirates". daytondailynews.
- "Vazquez, Woodruff, Tanaka join All-Star rosters". July 6, 2019 – via www.reuters.com.
- "Pirates pitcher Crick has surgery after altercation". ESPN. July 9, 2019. Retrieved September 10, 2019.
- Berry, Adam (September 17, 2019). "Pirates' Vázquez arrested, put on restricted list". MLB.com. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
- Snyder, Matt (September 17, 2019). "Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez arrested on charges of child solicitation, reportedly placed on administrative leave by MLB". CBS Sports. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
- Nesbitt, Stephen J. (May 8, 2017). "Felipe Rivero can thank the changeup for his strong start". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Biertempfel, Rob (March 2, 2017). "Change is good for Pirates reliever Rivero". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- Bloom, Elizabeth (April 9, 2018). "Felipe Rivero has changed his name to Felipe Vázquez". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
- Kaplan, David. "Authorities: Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez arrested, charged with solicitation of child". Pittsburgh's Action News 4. WTAE-TV. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
- "Pirates' All-Star Closer Felipe Vázquez Facing Several Felony Charges, Including Sexual Assault Of Teen He Met At PNC Park". pittsburgh.cbslocal.com. KDKA-TV. September 17, 2019. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
- CNN, Ray Sanchez, Evan Simko-Bednarski and Kristina Sgueglia. "Pirates' closer Felipe Vázquez described sexual encounter with girl as 'sex but not really,' police say". CNN. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
- "State police: Felipe Vazquez admitted to sexual contact with 13-year-old girl". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved September 22, 2019.