Luis Gil’s baffling changeup turning heads, changing games for Yankees

Yankees' Luis Gil is leaving the mound after a scoreless outing against the Twins at Yankee Stadium on June 4, 2024.
Michael Bennington
Wednesday June 5, 2024

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Luis Gil‘s fastball, which sits in the high-90s mph range, and his sharp slider are formidable pitches, but the Minnesota Twins attribute the 26-year-old right-hander’s dominant season to his changeup. Twins shortstop Carlos Correa, who struck out in all three of his at-bats against Luis Gil, remarked that the changeup is his most effective pitch.

“You can cover the fastball, but the changeup off of it is two different swings,” Correa said. “One, you have to stay on top; the other, you have to stay inside and scoop. And they come out of the same tunnel. It’s pretty good.”

The Twins struggled against Luis Gil on Tuesday, managing only a Christian Vazquez opposite-field double in the Yankees’ 5-1 victory at Yankee Stadium. Although the Yankees pitcher issued three walks, no other Twins player reached base during his six innings of work.

Yankees' Luis Gil is pitching against the Twins at Yankee Stadium on June 4, 2024.

Luis Gil has now logged seven straight starts in which he has allowed one earned run or less while pitching at least six innings. This impressive streak has lowered his ERA to 1.82 and improved his season record to 8-1.

Luis Gil’s changeup baffles opponents

Out of Luis Gil’s 88 pitches, 28 were changeups. This pitch generated 15 swings, with five resulting in misses. Three of his six strikeouts came via the changeup. Twins first baseman Jose Miranda noted that the changeup, which is on average 5.2 mph slower than Luis Gil’s four-seam fastball, has sinker-like action with late movement, making it challenging to hit.

The combination of his high-velocity fastball and deceptive changeup has perplexed opposing hitters. His ability to effectively locate both pitches in the strike zone has been a key factor in his remarkable success this season.

Yankees' Luis Gil is pitching against the Twins at Yankee Stadium on June 4, 2024.

According to Baseball Savant, Luis Gil has utilized his changeup 296 times this season, yielding just eight hits. Twins shortstop Carlos Correa noted the challenge of facing him, explaining that while it’s possible to anticipate his fastball, the changeup, delivered from the same arm slot, necessitates a different swing approach—one that involves either staying on top of the ball or scooping under it.

Interestingly, Luis Gil was initially signed by the Twins as an international free agent in 2015. However, in March 2018, he was traded to the Yankees for outfielder Jake Cave. Six years and one Tommy John surgery later, he stifled his former team on Tuesday and is now a potential candidate to start the All-Star Game if his performance remains stellar.

Twins manager Rocco Baldelli acknowledged Luis Gil’s impressive arsenal, emphasizing his overpowering velocity and movement. Baldelli remarked that when a pitcher combines such elite stuff with good command, it creates a daunting challenge for hitters. He considered Gil superior to most pitchers his team encounters.

“Gil is great. He’s got very good stuff and he’s going to be tough,” he said. “It’s hard not to initially look at the size of him on the mound and he’s got a very good arm. You see a lot of good stuff in the game — he’s better than most. When you have stuff like that and you command the ball pretty well, it’s a nice combination.”

After a turbulent start to his MLB career, the 26-year-old has solidified his place as one of the Yankees’ premier starters. By harnessing his high-velocity fastball and perfecting a deceptive changeup, Luis Gil has effectively kept opposing batters off-balance.

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