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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Vince Velasquez. Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (Jason Getz/USA TODAY Sports) /

Year after year, Phillies fans have waited for Vince Velasquez to break out.

After starting 69 of his first 70 games in red pinstripes through the 2018 season, the Phillies began to experiment with Vince Velasquez as both a reliever and swing starter. While it’s far short of what Philadelphia expected him to be, they hoped he could still play a valuable role on the team. It didn’t matter though. In 29 career games as a reliever, Velasquez has a higher ERA than he does as a starter (5.06 compared to 4.58).

One of the biggest things he’s struggled with as a starting pitcher is his inability to make adjustments when hitters clearly have. For his career, his first time through the batting order, Velasquez has a 3.44 ERA — while opposing hitters have hit .246/.324/.423. The second time through the order, his ERA goes up to 4.15.

If Velasquez is ever lucky enough to see the same hitters a third time through? It’s scarier for Phillies fans than any story that Stephen King could dream up. Hitters have destroyed Velasquez in their third plate appearances — slashing .312/.371/.572 (8.30 ERA).

Despite being a perennial breakout candidate, a lot of fans have given up on Velasquez. Once or twice a season, he will always flash the ability that has ensured the Phillies haven’t given up on him completely. However, he’s also consistently imploded and let fans down. Yet, somehow, someway, here we are again. Velasquez has finally broken through and it couldn’t be coming at a better time.

Over the offseason, the Phillies knew they needed to fill out the back end of their rotation. They had an open competition for the fourth and fifth starter slots among Velasquez, Spencer Howard, Ivan Nova, Chase Anderson, and Matt Moore. All of them had the opportunity to shine, but Anderson and Moore both ended up winning the last two spots and have been disastrous so far.

Between the two, Anderson has fared a bit better, just not by much. He’s made eight starts but lost his spot in the rotation after he was shelled by the Toronto Blue Jays to the tune of seven runs in 1 1/3 innings earlier in May. His ERA stands at a whopping 7.46.

Moore lasted just three starts and is currently on the 10-day injured list, but also has an ERA north of seven. Even though it’s early still, it’s fair to say that both signings feel like total busts.