Vince Velasquez recorded outs on the first two Mets batters he faced in the first inning of Thursday evening’s start, but went on to have a 32-pitch frame. Yoenis Cespedes doubled, Michael Conforto walked, and Wilmer Flores bashed a three-run home run. After Jose Reyes doubled, Velasquez got out of the inning when Travis d'Arnaud lined out. Mark Leiter took the mound to start the second inning.
Velasquez has averaged about 94 MPH on his fastball this season, but he topped out at 92 MPH tonight. The right-hander missed a month and a half earlier this season with a right elbow flexor strain.
After Thursday’s performance, Velasquez is carrying a 5.13 ERA with a 68/34 K/BB ratio over 72 innings. He was the biggest name in the Phillies’ haul coming from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade.
The Phillies should have more on Velasquez’s status later tonight.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.