Phillies: This D-Backs Starter Could Replace Vince Velasquez

Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Merrill Kelly #29 of the Arizona Diamondbacks (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

Has Vince Velasquez made his final start with the Phillies?

Seven-year veteran pitcher Vince Velasquez had yet another underwhelming performance on Saturday — his 115th start in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform. Lasting just 2 1/3 innings, the right-hander yielded five hits, six runs (all earned), two walks, and a pair of home runs en route to an eventual 15-3 embarrassing loss to the division-rival Atlanta Braves.

This month, Velasquez has posted a 10.91 ERA in four starts, with opposing batters raking against him to the tune of a .333/.440/.746 slash line. His overall season ERA may be 5.54, yet against all other opponents other than the lowly Miami Marlins, he’s got a 7.15 ERA.

If you can’t even trust Velasquez during the regular season, how can you envision a playoffs push with him in your rotation?

That exact question was asked and answered by Michael Barkann and former GM Ruben Amaro Jr. on Phillies Postgame Live. Barkann pondered how, in good conscience, can the Phillies keep “running” Velasquez out to the mound, and Amaro quickly replied that they “absolutely cannot.”

Amaro continued:

"“This is an embarrassment. He cannot pitch as a starter for the Philadelphia Phillies anymore this year, in my opinion. He puts the team ‘behind the eight ball’ too much. He is not consistent and cannot throw strikes consistently. He cannot use the middle of the plate. When he does throw it over the plate, they just bang it on him.”"

“This is the type of pitching performance you cannot afford to have if you want to be a contending team,” Amaro Jr. added. “This guy cannot pitch in the rotation for this team moving forward, in my opinion.”

The Phillies might be considering Merrill Kelly as Vince Velasquez’s replacement.

With the Phillies starting pitching depth all but depleted, they will have to look elsewhere ahead of the July 30 trade deadline to bring in talent.

On Saturday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale linked the Phillies to Arizona Diamondbacks starter, Merrill Kelly.

“[Kelly] is drawing a ton of interest on the trade market, with the Phillies among the teams in hot pursuit,” Nightengale wrote. “He is under team control through 2024.”

Like Velasquez, the 32-year-old Kelly pitched on Saturday, but had a much better showing — allowing just a pair of runs across six innings at Wrigley Field. In Kelly’s last seven starts, he is 5-0 with a 2.62 ERA.

If the Phillies were to acquire Kelly, he would be in line to replace Velasquez come his next scheduled start. It is clear that someone other than Velasquez needs to pitch every five days for the team. Perhaps Kelly can be the player to turn things around for that rotation spot.

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