We really tried, folks. In a town where it seems like we always give up on players too early only to see them have success elsewhere, Vince Velasquez was given chance after chance to make things work for the Phillies, for whatever reason. So, with apologies to guys like David Coggin, Matt Beech, Mike Mimbs and a few others in the 'honorable mention' category, a list like this just isn't complete without a discussion of 'Vinny Velo'.
Originally a second round selection by the Astros, Velasquez flashed some promise in Houston during his first taste of the majors in 2015. The Phillies saw enough to decide that they wanted him included in the Ken Giles deal that they swung with the Astros that offseason, and there was a shiny new toy in town. In his Phillies debut on April 9, 2016, Velasquez was stupendous, tossing six shutout innings and striking out nine Mets to earn the victory. The following start was even better, and it set expectations way too high.
Making his Citizens Bank Park debut, Vinny whiffed 16 Padres and threw a 3-hit shutout in one of the most thrilling pitching performances the Phillies franchise has ever seen. The crowd grew more and more electric with each strikeout, and it looked like a new star had been born before our eyes. Sadly, you know the rest.
Velasquez didn't exactly stumble over the rest of the 2016 season, but he endured his ups and downs before ultimately finishing with an 8-6 record and a 4.12 ERA over his 24 starts and 131 innings. It seemed to be a disappointing finish after such a blazing start, but optimism remained. 2017 dashed those hopes, however, as Velasquez struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness. He threw just 72 innings for the Phils, to go along with a 5.13 ERA. He was healthier in 2018 and 2019, but not much more effective, posting ERAs of 4.85 and 4.91, taking a regular rotation turn and causing eye rolls and utterances of "here we go again" every fifth day among Phillies fans.
Amazingly, Vince Velasquez stuck with the Phillies through 2021, despite numerous failed opportunities that should have been his last chance. He's been on three teams since leaving town and figures to add more to his ledger if he shows just barely enough to keep himself in MLB for a few more years. His Phillies career ended with a 4.93 ERA in 582.2 innings over 133 games (116 starts). Maybe they just should have let him play the outfield full-time.