Has Vince Velasquez finally earned a spot in the Phillies rotation?

Vince Velasquez #21 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Vince Velasquez #21 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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So far in 2021, Vince Velasquez has been the Phillies most improved player

If someone hopped in Doc Brown’s DeLorean, jumped out, grabbed me by the shoulders, and yelled at me that 2021 was finally going to be the year that Vince Velasquez figured things out, the first thing I would do is frantically ask how is Back to the Future real and why does its plot now hinge on a random back of the rotation starter for the Philadelphia Phillies? The second? Probably laugh in their face.

It’s happening though. Following a terrific start against the National League East rival Miami Marlins on Tuesday, Velasquez has cemented his place in a top-heavy rotation — whose back end has been unstable at best. Better than that, he’s been one of the best pitchers on a staff he was never projected to really make an impact.

Year after year, Velasquez has consistently left fans disappointed. He’s perenially so close to putting all the pieces together, but just flat out never has. Major League Baseball is full of these types of players who are hyper-talented and always on the verge of putting it together.

Look around MLB and you’ll see 30 teams who are all likely carrying at least one player that they’ve touted to finally break out every season for the last three years, only for them not to develop. Velasquez, though? He’s done it for about the last five.

The right-hander came to Philadelphia in December 2015 as a part of the trade that sent reliever Ken Giles to the Houston Astros. In Houston, Velasquez was one of the organization’s top prospects and by 2015, was listed as one of the Top 100 in baseball. However, he has never come close to living up to those expectations as a Phillie.

Since joining the team, Velasquez has had an ERA under 4.20 just once — 4.12 in 2016. Since that season, he hasn’t had an ERA under 4.85. Also, Velasquez has never thrown 150 innings and has had multiple seasons where he’s hit more opposing batters than he’s had wins. Right now, though? Velasquez is amid a massive hot streak and pitching the best he’s ever pitched in the majors.