Is this finally the year for Vincent Velasquez?
Aaron Nola will start for the Phillies on Opening Day – that was obvious.
As for the rest of the Phillies rotation, the answers are still not quite clear.
Vincent Velasquez will be 1 of 5 starting pitchers for the Phillies. At least he should be. It’s just a matter of where Girardi will pencil him in the rotation. The Wheeler family will most likely determine that issue given the fact that Zack Wheeler, the projected #2 in the rotation is waiting for a newborn baby which could come any day now.
Girardi acknowledged how well Velasquez has pitched calling him “really impressive” but has yet to determine anything else. Even after Vinny through 5+ innings of 1-run, 6-K baseball last night in the Bronx, Girardi still won’t say much about his position on the team.
Vince Velasquez, Bowel-locking 81mph Curveball. 💩 pic.twitter.com/YAjdl7uQzT
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 20, 2020
It’s true, Velasquez has been impressive. Especially when he retired Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez to end the 1st inning.
His career, however, has been more inconsistent. He’s been in and out of the rotation in all 4 years he’s been with the Phillies. The good news is that Velasquez, typically a fastball dominant pitcher, seems to have been working on his curveball and cutter.
Look at this cutter from Vince Velasquez. pic.twitter.com/G0UgkGrUv9
— Jack Fritz (@JackFritzWIP) July 20, 2020
I mean look, I’ve pretty much said it every year that THIS IS THE YEAR Vinny Velasquez comes out and becomes the pitcher we always hoped he would be. Much like the Sixers benefitting from a suspended season, maybe Velasquez has too.
“The whole quarantine made me look back,” Velasquez said. “A lot of guys were gearing up on my fastball and me being a power pitcher, I needed to learn how to locate something away from righties and in on lefties. The big lefty guys would ambush fastballs in and everything was pretty much straight, so I wanted to find something that was more comfortable to throw in on lefties and away from righties.”
With new pitching coach Bryan Price, Velasquez has broadened his pitch selection, working on his changeup, curveball, and cutter with assistant pitching coach Dave Lundquist during quarantine. He definitely has a new mindset.
“It’s just a matter of mixing speeds, changing eye levels and going from there,” Velasquez said.
The Skipper even chimed in when talking about Velasquez improving his weapons.
“He’s got different weapons,” Girardi said. “He has his four-seamer. He’s added a cutter now which I think has been big for him. His curveball, his changeup – he’s worked really hard on that and it’s been effective. The four-pitch mix helps you get through lineups the second and third time. When you’re going through a lineup the third time and you’ve only used two pitches they’ve seen everything you’ve got and it’s much more difficult. Vinny is a worker and he’s going to work really hard and he wants it really bad, so I think it’s his determination that has helped him make this adjustment.”
Like I said, only time will tell if this is finally “THE YEAR” for Vinny Velasquez. Worse comes to worse, toss him in left field or as a pinch runner and let’s rock.
Other Pitching Notes from the Phillies:
- Nick Pivetta, still finds himself in the mix for a starting spot in the rotation. He’ll pitch tonight during an 8-inning intrasquad game.
- Jake Arrieta will pitch in an intrasquad game Wednesday.
- Zach Eflin will pitch in a simulated game Thursday as he is still nursing an injury