Phillies: Three players who could make or break the 2020 season
By Hunter Doyle
Could the Philadelphia Phillies move Vince Velasquez to the bullpen full-time?
In 2019, Velasquez did spend some time in the bullpen. He has good velocity and movement with a fastball that usually sits around 96 mph. He also adds in an 87 mph slider and an 83 mph curveball. Many Phillies fans have been waiting for the team to move him to the bullpen full-time because his pitch arsenal and velocity are perfect for late-innings in games.
He has also averaged 17.3 pitches per inning during his big league career which means he’s usually at around 87 pitches by the fifth inning. Pitch count is something that wouldn’t be much of a problem for the 28-year-old in the bullpen since he would only have to pitch one or two innings maybe three on a rare occasion.
In the bullpen in 2019, he didn’t allow a run in eight of his ten relief appearances. He also added 15 strikeouts in those 10.1 innings. He did have two poor performances out of the bullpen but every reliever is going to have a few rough outings. Plus, having eight scoreless appearances out of ten total appearances is pretty impressive.
His worst performance as a reliever also came against a Milwaukee Brewers lineup that included 2018 National League MVP outfielder Christian Yelich, All-Star third basemen Mike Moustakas, and veteran outfielder Ryan Braun. Just two days prior to his poor outing against them, Vince did shut out that same lineup in two innings in relief allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out four so he is up to the challenge.
The Phillies should strongly consider moving Velasquez to the bullpen for the 2020 season. Although there is a small sample size of his time in the bullpen, it’s worth taking a second look at. This year might be his last chance anyway and if he doesn’t pitch well out of the bullpen then the Phillies will have their questions about Vince answered.
There are also some young guys in the bullpen who have potential but none of them have been reliable towards the end of the season. Maybe Vince can step up and be that reliable reliever when Philadelphia needs him most. Whether he pitches in the rotation or out of the bullpen, the Phillies plan to give him one more shot this year and if he doesn’t pitch well with extended time on the mound, there could be plenty of games that get out of hand quickly.