Before the start of the 2019 season, the Phillies had a handful of young question marks in their rotation. Everyone hoped Nick Pivetta or Zach Eflin would fulfill their potential and become a number 2 or 3 starter. People gushed as both Pivetta and Eflin threw complete games. It wasn’t rare to see #breakoutPivetta around Twitter.
But nobody. NOBODY. Expected Vince Velasquez to be the last young starter to remain in the rotation.
Even though Velasquez started the season as the 5-starter, his first appearance came in relief. On the 4th day of the season, Velasquez struck out 2 nationals in an inning of a 8-2 win.
People became excited that Velasquez could become a great bullpen piece and it wasn’t long until he was pushed there. From May 24th-June 14th, Velasquez would call the bullpen home.
It wasn’t very hospitable, however. In his 9 appearances in that span, Velasquez had a 4.82 ERA with 3 homers allowed.
He’s since moved back into the rotation and has, surprisingly, flourished. After pitching 5.1 IP with 3 ER against the Padres, Velasquez has put together a nice streak.
In his past 5 starts, Velasquez has pitched 28 IP with a 3.21 ERA, a 1.14 WHIP, and 3 HR. He might not go the distance, but Velasquez has kept the Phillies in games.
Pivetta and Eflin have not. Their starters ERAs of 5.74 and 4.63, respectfully, have pushed them to the bullpen. Zach Eflin is set to replace injured Jake Arrieta in the rotation, but Velaquez has proven his worth.
His 4.35 ERA doesn’t sound great, but it’s the 2nd best of his career. It’s almost as if playing left field and being recognized as one of the best athletes on the Phillies has given Velasquez confidence.
That added confidence looks like it will solidify Velasquez’s role as the 5th starter heading into 2020.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports