Phillies 2016 Grades: Rotation

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Aug 29, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jake Thompson (44) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 29, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Jake Thompson (44) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /
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May 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Velasquez (28) follows through on a pitch against the Cleveland Indians at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Indians, 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
May 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Velasquez (28) follows through on a pitch against the Cleveland Indians at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Indians, 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

VINCE VELASQUEZ

The 24-year old Velasquez came to the Phillies in last December’s big Ken Giles trade with the Houston Astros.

He made his big league debut a year ago with Houston when he appeared in 19 games, seven of those starts.

When spring training opened down in Clearwater, it was unknown in what role the Phillies planned to utilize him. But Velasquez quickly became the team’s best spring starter.

In a battle as the Grapefruit League season was drawing to a close for the fifth starter role, Velasquez simply seized it, out-pitching the other candidates and forcing the Phillies hands.

Over 24 starts, Velasquez showed that he could dominate big league hitters. This was demonstrated no better than on April 14th at Citizens Bank Park.

On that day in front of the home fans, in just his second start for the Phils, Velasquez struck out 16 batters, walked none, and allowed just three hits in a complete game shutout of the San Diego Padres.

However, Velasquez also had a maddening habit of simply throwing too many pitches in his outings to last more than 4-5 innings on a number of occasions.

Velasquez would remain in the Phillies rotation all season before being shutdown as Labor Day rolled around.

Overall this year, Velasquez showed that he is a genuine big league starter. He tossed nine Quality Starts among his 24, and could have a half-dozen more had he been more efficient.

His final numbers for the season: 8-6 with a 4.12 ERA, 1.328 WHIP, 101 ERA+. He allowed 129 hits over his 131 innings, with a 152/45 K:BB ratio.

While some, including me at times, have felt that he ultimately could end up a closer, Velasquez indeed demonstrated that he has what it takes to be a starting pitcher.

Velasquez will come to spring training as a solid member of the Phillies 2017 rotation. The club will look to work with him to gain that greater efficiency, control, and maturity on the mound. If he can harness it all, he can be an ace.

GRADE: B

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