We've been saying--and we haven't been the only ones--that this Phillies season would be a lot more fun than the last. They might not end up winning more games, but the road to 90+ losses will at least be watchable. If you were working today and couldn't watch the Phillies and Vince Velasquez make the Padres look like fools, well, I feel sorry for you. Gone are the days where missing a Phillies game comes at no cost.
Things happened in today's game aside from Vince Velasquez striking out 16 batters in a complete game shutout--Ryan Howard hit a dinger off a lefty, for example--but this is not the place to concern ourselves with them. In fact, this isn't even the place to concern ourselves with words of my own. I have none.
So here is the end of his performance in the form of moving pictures...
And in lieu of my own commentary and in light of MLB's war on unsanctioned GIFs, I'll defer to Twitter.
Vince Velasquez first-inning pitches by velocity: 95, 95, 93, 95, 96, 95, 95, 95, 96, 95, 95, 96, 96, 97, 95, 96. He struck out the side.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) April 14, 2016
starting to love how Vince Velasquez is a jerk pic.twitter.com/OJkOEaRhTW— Jeff Sullivan (@based_ball) April 14, 2016
The early parts of the game were fun, but as the game progressed history kept being made. Let's look at some of the historical moments that left us in hysterics.
Velasquez the first 23-or-younger Phillies SP to K 12 since Cole Hamels in 2007— Paul Boyé (@paul_boye) April 14, 2016
Make that first 23-or-younger Phillies SP to K 13 since Hamels in 2006 and only the 4th in club history since 1913 (A. Mahaffey, D. Bennett)— Paul Boyé (@paul_boye) April 14, 2016
The list of Phillies pitchers 23 or younger with 14 strikeouts in a game:— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) April 14, 2016
Vince Velasquez today: 8 IP, 0 BB, 14 K. Only five pitchers did that or better last year: Scherzer, Kershaw, Sale, Archer, Kluber.— Jon Tayler (@JATayler) April 14, 2016
Vince Velasquez, wow. He'd be the 5th-youngest pitcher to have a scoreless start of 14+ K, 0 BB behind Gooden, K. Wood, J. Fernandez, Blue.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) April 14, 2016
Vincent Velasquez is the first Phillies pitcher with at least 14 strikeouts in a game since Cliff Lee in 2013— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 14, 2016
Holy shit Velasquez— David Sherman (@philsandthrills) April 14, 2016
Truly 1 of most dominant pitching performances in Phillies history— Corey Seidman (@CoreySeidmanCSN) April 14, 2016
Vince Velasquez pitches 3-hit shutout w/ 16 K, 0 BB, 27 swings & misses
Vince Velasquez's 25 strikeouts through first 2 starts as a Phillie is a franchise record— Corey Seidman (@CoreySeidmanCSN) April 14, 2016
Vincent Velasquez has 15 K today. Most by a #Phillies pitcher since Cliff Lee had 16 on May 6, 2011.— Ace of MLB Stats (@theaceofspaeder) April 14, 2016
Vincent Velasquez strikes out 16, allows 3 hits, 0 runs in first complete game of major league season pic.twitter.com/JoqhdaADDI— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 14, 2016
Most recent 16+ K & 0 BB CG SHO— Ace of MLB Stats (@theaceofspaeder) April 14, 2016
April 14, 2016: Vincent Velasquez
June 15, 2015: Scherzer
Aug 28, 1998: Randy Johmson
Aug 25, 1998: Clemens
Pitchers w/27+ swinging strikes in a gm since '14: Kershaw 35, Kershaw, Carrasco, Stras 30; Sale 29; Max 2x, Kluber, Hamels, & VV today w/27— Paul Sporer (@sporer) April 14, 2016
Since 2000, the number of MLB pitchers to strike out at least 16, walk zero in shutout win: Max Scherzer (10/3/15), Vince Velasquez (today).— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) April 14, 2016
Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Scherzer, Kershaw, Sale, Archer, Kluber, Kerry Wood, Jose Fernandez, Vida Blue, Dwight Gooden, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens. That's the company Vinny had today. Bad or even mediocre pitchers don't do things like this. The only merely above-average pitcher mentioned was Carlos Carrasco.
Less than a month ago, Velasquez was in a battle with Adam Morgan for a spot in the Phillies rotation. I thought that competition seemed foolish at the time, but it looks like a downright joke now. Velasquez now leads major league baseball with 25 strikeouts, four more than Noah Syndergaard's 21. Syndergaard has deservedly received much attention for his early season dominance and a 95 mph slider certainly packs a lot of flash.
But, as we saw today, Velasquez is as flashy as they come. He was hitting 97 mph with his fastball not only in the first inning but on his 110th pitch of the game. We remain hopeful (and optimistic) about his long-term playing career, but we don’t yet know exactly how it will turn out.
With a game score of 97, Velasquez's performance falls just shy of Halladay's perfect game and Hamels' no-hitter (both 98s). The Phillies might not be great again, but they're at least exciting again. That's all we can really ask for and we have Vince Velasquez to thank.