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Vince Velasquez: “I feel clueless right now.”

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Vince Velasquez isn’t pitching well. That’s not an uncommon theme among Phillies starters, who have compiled a collective 4.75 ERA and 1.8 fWAR entering Saturday’s game against the Pirates. Still, things have been especially rough on Velasquez’s end: he’s dragging a 5.98 ERA through 43 2/3 innings and has pitched into the sixth inning during just three of his eight starts.

Things came to a head after the Phillies took a 6-3 loss to the Pirates on Saturday afternoon. Velasquez hurled 5 1/3 innings, allowing five runs, walking two and striking out six of 25 batters while the Phillies struggled to find a foothold against Ivan Nova. The loss didn’t sit well with Velasquez, who told reporters, “I feel clueless right now. I’m just running around like a chicken without a head.”

Corey Seidman of CSN Philly pins the blame on Velasquez’s over-reliance on his fastball and lack of command, which was all too apparent in his latest appearance. The right-hander also lacks potent secondary pitches, so once hitters have his heater figured out, they’re able to unleash bigger hits. Switching to a bullpen role may be the key to developing his pitch repertoire, but the 24-year-old effectively nixed that idea on Saturday. Via MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki:

If it’s a way to help the team in the bullpen, then so be it. But do I think about that going out there? No.

Something has to change, however, whether it means reducing Velasquez’s workload or figuring out how to get into a better headspace during his starts. “I need to break it down and not put so much pressure on myself,” he added, a sentiment echoed by both club manager Pete Mackanin and catcher Cameron Rupp. “I think that’s one of the hardest things.”

How Yu Darvish tipped his pitches during the World Series

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You hear a lot about pitchers tipping pitches. It’s often offered up post-facto as an excuse for poor performance by the pitcher himself or his own team. It’s sort of like the “best shape of my life” thing being offered in the offseason to talk about why the player got injured or played badly the previous year. “Smitty’s stuff is still great, he was just tipping his pitches,” said a source close to the player whose stuff is not really great anymore.

Which isn’t to say that pitchers don’t tip pitches. Of course they do. Opposing teams look for it, pick up on it and take advantage of it whenever they can. It’s just that (a) the opposing team has an interest in not talking about it, lest the pitcher STOP tipping its pitches; and (b) the guy actually tipping his pitches doesn’t want to talk specifically about it lest he starts doing it again.

Which is what makes this article at Sports Illustrated so interesting. In it Tom Verducci talks to an anonymous Houston Astros player who explains how Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was tipping his pitches during the World Series, leading to him getting absolutely shellacked in Games 3 and 7. The upshot: the Astros knew when a slider or a cutter was coming, they waited for it and they teed off.

Darvish is a free agent now. I’m guessing, whoever signs him, knows exactly what they’ll gave him work on the first day of spring training.