Vince Velasquez has been chasing the ghost of his 16-strikeout game ever since it happened. He has struggled with command and has run up high pitch counts in nearly every one of his starts trying to get as high of a strikeout total as possible.
Velasquez’s 10.8 percent walk rate was 14th-highest among pitchers with 70 or more innings last year, while his 5.52 fielding-independent pitching was 20th. He dealt with injury throughout the year, making just 15 starts. His season ended Aug. 10 when he was removed from a game against the Mets after just one inning. He eventually underwent surgery to correct a circulation issue in his hand.
The team and fans both know what kind of potential Velasquez has; all they have to do is look at the 16-strikeout game and several others with double-digit strikeout numbers. However, it doesn’t mean a whole lot if his control is non-existent and he can’t make it past the fifth inning. Velasquez needs to bounce back and then some this year to stay in the rotation. Otherwise, he may wind up moving to the bullpen.