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.”