Many of the same questions that have surrounded Vince Velasquez throughout his Philadelphia Phillies career will follow him into the 2020 season.
The hard-throwing right-hander has shown flashes of his talent, but his inconsistencies have made it hard for Velasquez to cement himself into one specific role. This leaves him as a possible candidate for both the bullpen and starting rotation this season.
2019 Statline: 117 1/3 IP, 33 G, 23 GS, 7-8 record, 4.91 ERA, 5.21 FIP, 1.389 WHIP, 9.2 H/9, 2.0 HR/9, 3.3 BB/9, 10.0 K/9, 0.6 fWAR
2019 Season in Review
Velasquez made his first outing of the 2019 season in relief but was a member of the starting rotation for most of the year. He began as the fifth starter and was expected to keep that role if he was effective. However, Velasquez struggled to pitch deep into games in his first six starts, prompting a move to the bullpen in May.
He shined in his first appearance as a true reliever, striking out four Milwaukee Brewers and giving up no runs in two innings. Velasquez did not continue this dominance out of the bullpen and surrendered two home runs in just two-thirds of an inning just two days later. His time as a reliever did not last much longer — Velasquez moved back to the rotation in mid-June and finished the season there.
Other than a solid five-start stretch starting at the end of July, Velasquez was mostly the same Velasquez for the rest of 2019. He still threw high pitch counts and short outings down the stretch. He was serviceable at times for the Phillies, but his shortcomings kept him from being someone that the team could rely on consistently in any role.
Velasquez was battling for the fifth starter spot with Ranger Suárez and Nick Pivetta in spring training before baseball was suspended indefinitely due to the spread of COVID-19. Based on spring training performance, Suárez looked to be winning the fight before things were shut down. In that scenario, Velasquez would likely end up as a full-time reliever.
But a lot of things are up in the air — including when or if the MLB season will start up again. Perhaps the Phillies will take a second look at Velasquez in the rotation if there is another “spring” training before the regular season.
Velasquez has a plus fastball and the ability to get strikeouts. He has just not been able to put it all together up to this point. But because of that ability, it is safe to say that he will get a shot in some role for the Phillies, assuming that there is a 2020 season. Look for him to be the fifth starter to start the season, but expect the team to act quickly if he is not effective.
Check out our previous 2020 Season Previews
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