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Vincent Velasquez and Brett Oberholtzer impress in push for number-five rotation spot

The two top candidates for the final spot in the Phillies rotation performed well on Monday.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

One guy throws with the right hand and misses bats with lots of heat and movement. The other guy throws with the left hand, must softer, with finesse.

Both were on display Monday as the Phillies defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in Grapefruit League action 1-0. Vincent Velasquez (he likes to be called "Vince" by the way) started the game and threw three innings of shutout ball, giving up three hits with a walk and three strikeouts.

"Vinny from Philly," as his friends call him, or "Vinsanity" as I will call him (this is a totally new nickname that has never been used by any other athlete before, by the way, so just deal with it and don't sue me), reached the mid-90s on multiple occasions and focused on using his new two-seam fastball more, which resulted in more movement and two double play ground balls.

Vinny struggled with his command a bit, but otherwise looked very good.

His former teammate in Houston, Brett Oberholtzer, pitched the middle three innings, and didn't allow a run during his afternoon of work, either.

Obie gave up four hits in his three innings of work, but with no walks and one strikeout. He would be the lone left-hander in the rotation, and is out of options, so he cannot be sent to the minors.

It's one of the reasons why it might make more sense for Oberholtzer to start the year in the rotation, while Velasquez works on command in Triple-A. However, Velasquez is the more intriguing arm, with stuff that could certainly play up to that of a number-three starter, if not a number-two.

This is why the Phillies made the Ken Giles deal. While it's still way too early to make any judgments about either pitcher, the fact that both are in the conversation to be legitimate starting pitching options for the Phils just makes it a no-brainer.

And that doesn't even factor in Mark Appel, who has the highest upside of anyone acquired in that trade.

Based on pure stuff, it would seem Velasquez and his mid-90s heater would have the upper hand over Oberholtzer and his high-80s "gas." At the very least, both pitchers will have plenty of opportunity to impress manager Pete Mackanin.

But for one day in spring, both did nothing to hurt their chances of opening the season with the big league club.

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