The 2020 regular season is scheduled to begin in late July, which means it’s finally time to talk some baseball! To prepare you for the season, Phillies Nation will be taking an in-depth look at all of your favorite players. Here’s a review of Vince Velasquez’s 2019 season as well as what to expect from the Phillies pitcher in 2020.
Many of the same questions that have surrounded Vince Velasquez throughout his Philadelphia Phillies career will follow him into the shortened 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 have ended up as a full-time reliever.
But a lot of things have changed since that first spring training. With the regular season set to start back up at the end of the month for a shortened season, top prospect Spencer Howard is certainly a candidate for the major-league rotation. Howard could be kept down for the start of the season for service time reasons, but it is expected that he’ll get a shot in the majors at some point. This could leave Velasquez the odd man out for a starting role if he does not perform early.
On the other hand, there is a possibility that Zack Wheeler does not complete the full season for the Phillies. He is expected to take time off for the birth of his child, and could possibly consider not returning to the team due to health concerns for himself and his family. Velasquez could see some additional chances to start in Wheeler’s absence.
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. Look for him to be get some opportunities as a starter, but expect the team to act quickly if he is not effective.
Check out our previous 2020 Season Previews
- Héctor Neris
- Zach Eflin
- Adam Morgan
- Jean Segura
- Aaron Nola
- Rhys Hoskins
- Zack Wheeler
- Didi Gregorius
- Nick Pivetta
- Adam Haseley
- Andrew McCutchen
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