Phillies 2018 season preview: Starting pitcher Vince Velasquez

MIAMI, FL - JULY 18: Vince Velasquez #28 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 18, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - JULY 18: Vince Velasquez #28 of the Philadelphia Phillies looks on during a game against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on July 18, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

After an injury plagued 2017 season, 2018 is important for determining Vince Velasquez’s future in the Phillies rebuilding plan.

The Phillies have many young starters who they need to take a close look at and decide where they stand in the long-term picture. None are more compelling than Vince Velasquez, who has shown flashes of being an ace, but also has had many struggles at the big-league level.

Injuries happen in professional sports, and can’t be avoided. So the injury that derailed Velasquez’s season isn’t the biggest concern.

The concern is what happened before the injury. The hard-throwing righty did not show the progress many expected him to, and he continued to be extremely inconsistent.

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Velasquez started his Phillies tenure when he was part of the Ken Giles trade in December of 2015.  Many were unsure of whether he would be used as a starter, or kept as a bullpen arm, who could eventually take over the closer spot.

After being named a starter, and showing elite upside in spring training, Velasquez started off hot early in the 2016 season.

In April of 2016 he had a 3-1 record with an ERA of 1.78 and 33 strikeouts.  The highlight of his Phillies career to date occured April 12, 2016, when he threw a complete game shutout with 16 strikeouts.

June of 2016 was another promising month as he had a 1.86 ERA with a 1-0 record and 13 strikeouts.

The other months in 2016 were drastically different and spoke to the inconsistency which has plagued Velasquez throughout his major league career.

Despite those two electric months where his ERA was under 2.00, he finished 2016 with an ERA of 4.12 and 152 strikeouts. His worst month was August of 2016, where he had a 7.52 ERA.

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Expectations were high going into 2017, hoping that the upside he displayed in April and June were more of a trend, than blips on the radar.

2017 was not what Velasquez, the fans, or the organization had hoped for, as the inconsistencies were still there, and he battled injuries throughout the season. Velasquez was eventually shut down after being added to the disabled list Aug. 11.

Velasquez started 15 games in 2017, finishing with a record of 2-7, an ERA of 5.13, and 68 strikeouts.

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While it would be easy to chalk up the inconsistencies in 2017 to the injuries he battled, it is hard to defend given he has shown these major inconsistencies throughout his career.

Finding some consistency will be the main focus of Vince Velasquez in 2018. It is necessary for him to find a middle ground between his April and June of 2016, and his August of 2016. He has not shown the ability to consistently have quality starts, and  will need to show this if he wants to remain with the team.

Control has been a major reason for the ups and downs, so that should be the main focus for him while preparing for the season.

2018 Projections for Vince Velasquez (according to are 127 innings pitched, 24 games started, 13 quality starts, a 4.05 era, 140 strikeouts, and a win loss record of 8-8.

Based off of his past seasons, these projections are in line with his career numbers. For 2018, I am a little more optimistic and think he will make strides in the right direction, and finish the season with an era in the 3.50-3.90 range and will have a winning record of 12-8.

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While there is still much optimism for Velasquez, it is ultimately up to him and his future is in his hands. 2018 will be a huge season for Velasquez, as the team will need to evaluate whether he will be a major piece in the rebuild moving forward, or if he even has a future on the team.