Cheers to Vincent Velasquez, Confident and Comfortable
Almost every year in recent memory, the Philadelphia Phillies season kicks-off with a conversation about Vincent Velasquez. Just search The Liberty Line, I constantly ask myself and you, the readers one simple question.
Is this finally the year for Vincent Velasquez?
This year, was a bit different. The Phillies had Matt Moore and Chase Anderson both locked in the four and five spots of the rotation to start the season. Matt Moore failed to secure his spot touting an ERA north of nine through the early goings of the 2021 season before ending up on the COVID-19 Injured List and ultimately, losing his spot in the rotation.
Pitching depth for the Phillies is a problem. The Phillies had no other pitcher to turn to besides Vincent Velasquez, who spent time in the bullpen to start the season. With one final chance to prove that he can be an effective pitcher in the Phillies’ starting rotation, Velasquez is finally making the most of his opportunity after rollercoaster years of disappointment.
Now in his seventh season in the MLB (six with the Phillies), Velasquez is seizing the opportunity. This doesn’t mean that he will pitch 20 starts this season, but for now when the Phillies need him most, he’s doing what needs to be done. Over his last three starts, Velasquez has a 1.59 ERA. Those starts came against the Brewers, Braves, and Blue Jays. It’s the first time in his career that he’s gone at least five innings and allowed no more than a run in three straight starts.
Last night, he had everything working for the Phillies in Dunedin, Florida. His fastball averaged 93.5mph, maxing out at 96mph. He was sharp around the edges. He had control of the pace of the game with a tight slider and a change up that kept Blue Jays’ batters guessing all night.
Vinny felt it as well: “I think the changeup and fastball mix tonight was the best command, and then throwing them off with a curveball when I needed to.”
Vinny ended the night throwing 5.2 innings, allowing three hits, one earned run, and three walks while striking out seven. Velasquez’s only run allowed came from a solo home run by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. in the sixth inning. Gone are the days of 16 strikeout performances, but “Vinny from Philly” is confident and comfortable at last, which is a great thing for the Phillies who are in desperate need of pitching help.
Up Next: The Phillies will send Aaron Nola to the mound tonight for game two against the Blue Jays. Toronto has yet to name a starter.
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images