This April will mark two years since Vince Velasquez’s incredible Citizens Bank Park debut when he struck out 16 Padres in a complete-game shutout. He already had the makings a future top-of-the-rotation starter after being acquired from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade. Fans could dream of a rotation spearheaded by Velasquez and Aaron Nola.
After that start, Velasquez has failed to replicate any sort of similar success. His major-league career since then has been plagued by injury and inconsistency. His walk rate jumped 3.1 per nine innings in 2016 to 4.3 in 2017. His strikeout rate fell, leading to a meager 2.00 strikeout-to-walk ratio last year.
Velasquez managed just 15 starts last year after dealing with two separate injuries. He missed a month and a half due to a flexor strain in his right elbow during the middle of the season. His last start came in August before he was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a vascular issue in his middle finger. He had surgery in September to fix the issue.
Velasquez looked strong this spring in 14.1 innings of action. He struck out 15 batters, walked just four, and had a 2.51 ERA.
This year may be the last Velasquez has to prove he can be a major-league starter. If he can’t find consistency in the rotation, there’s a strong chance he will get moved to the bullpen after the year. He has so much potential, but that potential can only take him so far.