Each season in Major League Baseball is currently scheduled to last for 162 games. This means that the Philadelphia Phillies (31-22) reach the 1/3 pole with their home game on Tuesday night against the Saint Louis Cardinals.
Over the last few days, I began handing out report cards for the first “trimester” of the season for each player on the Phillies 2019 roster. That process continues on Monday and Tuesday with a letter grade, along with a brief description of each player’s contributions, including their relevant statistics.
I’ll be back with each player’s grades for the second trimester and the season to that point when the Phillies reach the 108-game mark. That is scheduled to come on July 31, the same date as the MLB trade deadline.
FIRST TRIMESTER GRADE: C
STATS: 9 game including 6 starts, 2-2 record, 4.64 ERA, 1.485 WHIP, 32 hits allowed including nine home runs over 33 innings with a 36/17 K:BB ratio.
REPORT: Velasquez started the season with a quick single inning out of the bullpen in early April, striking out two in a shutout frame. Moving back into his spot in the starting rotation, the righty reeled off four straight solid outings over which he allowed just 16 hits over 21.2 innings with a 2.08 ERA and a .203 batting average against.
But he then got beaten up in this next two starts against the Tigers and Cardinals. That was followed by a stint on the Injured List due to a right forearm strain. When Velasquez returned he found his place in the rotation was gone. The Phillies have finally decided that he may be able to help more out of the bullpen on a permanent basis, as many had called for over recent months and years.
Velasquez’ career as a steady reliever got off to a rousing start when he struck out four Brewers batters over a two-inning stint in this past weekend’s series opener on Friday night. But in yesterday’s finale, the Brew Crew knocked him around for four earned runs on five hits and a walk over just 2/3 of an inning.
He has to be graded on the totality of his contributions, and so you cannot ignore those first five outings. But three of his last four times on the mound have produced disastrous results: 8.1 combined innings over which he has allowed a dozen earned runs on 15 hits with a 10/9 K:BB ratio.
I believe he is where he belongs now. Velasquez has the stuff to succeed as a back-end reliever in high-leverage situations, possibly even as a closer. But he is going to need to work there for a bit, and work on the mental part of the transition. He needs to become accustomed to the pace of warming up and sitting down, being ready to pitch every day, and coming in to games in an immediate pressure situation with games on the line.
“He’s like any other person, he wants to feel valued, he wants to contribute, and I think he can make a major contribution out of the ‘pen,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “It’s a transition for him. It’s something that people have been talking about for a really long time and now it’s time to see what it looks like.”
Give us your feedback. Respond either as a comment to this piece or at our social media feeds. What is your take on him to this point? What, if anything, would you do differently regarding this player or their role if you were the Phillies manager or GM?
MORE FROM PHILLIES NATION:
- First trimester 2019 report card: Aaron Nola
- First trimester 2019 report card: Jerad Eickhoff
- First trimester 2019 report card: Nick Pivetta
- First trimester 2019 report card: Pat Neshek
- First trimester 2019 report card: Nick Williams