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Vince Velasquez: “I feel clueless right now.”


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’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.”

Jeff Samardzija to undergo MRI on right shoulder

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Giants starter Jeff Samardzija will undergo an MRI on his ailing right shoulder, according to NBC Sports Bay Area. The right-hander struggled in a minor league game on Wednesday, surrendering a pair of home runs and hitting a batter. Overall this spring, Samardzija has given up 15 runs (13 earned) on 17 hits (six homers) and seven walks with seven strikeouts in 11 innings.

This may mean Samardzija won’t be ready for the start of the regular season. Derek Holland would likely replace Samardzija in the rotation. Holland had been competing for the No. 5 spot in the Giants’ rotation.

Samardzija led the National League in losses last season with 15, also posting a 4.42 ERA with a 205/32 K/BB ratio in a league-high 207 2/3 innings. Since becoming a starter, Samardzija has been able to avoid injury, making 32 or 33 starts in each of the last five seasons.