Phillies Hope Vince Velasquez Can Provide Them Some Relief

Phillies Hope Vince Velasquez Can Provide Them Some Relief
There seem to be no simple solutions when dealing with the best way to utilize Phillies righthander Vince Velasquez. Should he be a starter or a reliever? He is currently in the bullpen for what looks like an extended period, for the first time in his Phillies career. The first two relief appearances have mirrored his career, up and down.
 
Since being acquired in December of 2015 from the Houston Astros in the Ken Giles trade, Velasquez has shown flashes of brilliance and just as many periods of inconsistency.
 
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Velasquez, who turns 27 on June 7, has an electric fastball. Entering this week, his career strikeouts per nine innings was 9.8, a truly healthy number. This season, according to Fangraphs.com, his average fastball velocity has been 95.1 MPH.
 
As a starter, Velasquez has not been able to go deep into games and he has dealt with his share of injuries. This season he was on the injured list with a strained forearm from May 11 until being activated May 24, where he made his first relief appearance.
 
That first appearance out of the bullpen had the Phillies feeling optimistic that it was a move that would pay dividends.
 
Facing a Milwaukee Brewers team that has one of the best offenses in baseball, Velasquez pitched two shutout innings in a 6-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers.
 
Entering in the fifth inning, Velasquez immediately got in trouble by walking reigning MVP Christian Yelich before Ryan Braun singled him to third.
 
With runners on the corners and no outs, he then struck out Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal before Yelich ended the inning when he was out attempting to steal home on a delayed double steal.
 
In the next inning Velasquez got Eric Thames out on a grounder to second before striking out Keston Hiura and Orlando Arcia to end the inning.
 
His final pitch, according to MLB.com, was a 94.5 MPH four seam fastball that Arcia whiffed on. Velasquez threw 33 pitches, 20 for strikes.
 
Two days later, the results were the opposite. During Sunday’s 9-1 loss to the Brewers, Velasquez entered the game in the fifth inning and the Phillies trailing 3-0.
 
In just two-thirds of an inning he allowed four runs (all earned) on five hits, including two home runs. He also walked a batter. Velasquez threw 22 pitches, 14 for strikes.
 
Yelich homered on his first pitch, a 93 MPH four-seam fastball. On the next pitch Braun doubled on a 93.5 MPH four-seamer.
 
One thing that might have been taken into consideration is that Velasquez only had one day rest between appearances. Maybe it will take time for him to get in the routine of pitching two games in three days.
 
The Phillies at the moment feel that relief is the best way he could help the team. Velasquez was never a pitcher known for going deep into games. In 82 career starts, including seven with Houston, he has one complete game.
 
So for now, it appears the Phillies will leave him in the bullpen and hope that the results he produced in his first appearance are an indication of the value that Velasquez can bring to the team.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo by Marc Narducci

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