One of the biggest question marks on the Phillies roster at the beginning of the year is quietly in the midst of a career year.
After beating the Miami Marlins 5-2 on the back of a three-run walk-off home run by Maikel Franco, the Phillies entered another game they needed to win to maintain a lead in the NL East.
Following a six-inning, two-run outing by a struggling Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez came out and threw six and third innings of no run baseball. Velasquez struck out seven Marlins while only allowing two hits, also smacking a double of his own.
It was another brilliant out by Velasquez, who has been dominant since the start of July. Velasquez is 3-0 in five games (four starts) since the end of a rough June. He has an ERA below 1.00 giving up just two runs in 25.1 innings of work. He has only struck out 22 batters however he has only let 22 get on base, nine walks, and 13 hits. His dominance has played a major role in the Phillies ability to stay ahead in a very tight division.
But Velasquez has not just been good over the past 35 days, the righty is in the middle of his best season yet.
Vinny Velo has already tied his career high in wins and is on pace to set a low in ERA as well. After just 16 quality starts in his first three seasons, the 26-year-old already has 11 this year. He also has career lows in opposing batters OBP, SLG, OPS, BAA, and BABIP.
His H/9 is also at a career low while HR/9, K/9, BB/9 and K/BB are all at second bests.
Coming into this year there was a large question mark around Velasquez. He had shown flashes of brilliance but would also have a tendency of giving a 10 run train wreck once a month.
Acquired in the Ken Giles trade, Velasquez looked like he’d be the ace of the future going 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA over his first four starts. However, the rest of his season and career consisted of many ups and downs that left many questioning if he would even be apart of the Phillies future.
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Starting pitching is a major reason behind the Phillies success this season; Velasquez is one of four Phillies starters to have a sub-four ERA. Behind the emergence of ace Aaron Nola, the addition Jake Arrieta and solid seasons from Velasquez and Zach Eflin the Phillies are in first place with only 53 games to go. The front office gambled when they chose not to trade for a starting pitcher, but the rotation continues to prove them right.
Velasquez has been one of the major pieces for the Phillies during this pennant race, and he has been brilliant since throwing batting practice to the Brewers in mid-June. Come October, Velasquez could be the Phillies game three starter, unless the team becomes a Wild Card winner in which he could start game two.
All in all, it has been a great year for Velasquez and a major step forward. Hopefully he can build upon this month and season as he looks to become a big part of the Phillies rotation for years to come.