Let’s start at the top. The Phillies have selected reliever Yacksel Rios (such a great name, I hope he goes by Yack) to join them in the majors. Rios, 24, was the Phillies 12th round draft pick in 2011 out of Doctora Conchita Cuevas High School in Gurabo, Puerto Rico.
He dominated with Reading for the first half of the 2017 season, posting a 1.89 ERA, 47 strikeouts (11.1 K/9), and just 10 walks (2.4 BB/9) over 38 innings of work. Rios was then promoted to Lehigh Valley on July 13 and continued to dominate out of the bullpen. In his 18.1 innings of triple-A work, Rios had a 1.96 ERA, 17 strikeouts (8.3 K/9), and 4 walks (2.0 BB/9).
It wasn’t always easy for Rios, however, as just a year ago he struggled heavily in Clearwater and Reading. He struggled with all his pitches mainly due to problems with his delivery and command. The 2017 season has seen Rios find command of his pitches, and it’s very noticeable given his success.
Rios’ fastball sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and has reached 98. This velocity is a few ticks higher than in recent years where he sat in the low-to-mid 90s. The slider has been the main reason for Rios’ improvement, however, as it is much improved from recent years. His improved delivery and command have allowed him to be more consistent with it and to use it as an effective strikeout pitch.
(He’s not the only new face on the Phillies today. Since they’re playing a doubleheader against the Marlins, the Phillies get to call up a 26th man. And that 26th man is Nick Pivetta. He’ll start game two of today’s twin bill.)
To make room for Rios, who wasn’t on the 40-man roster, someone had to move off of it. And that person is Vince Velasquez. He’s being moved to the 60-day DL, effectively ending his season. He left his start on August 10 with numbness in his right middle finger, and we haven’t really known what was really wrong with him. Well, now we know.
Velasquez needs surgery. Has a vascular issue that Mackanin described as clogging blood flow to his middle finger. #Phillies— Meghan Montemurro (@M_Montemurro) August 22, 2017
That is Not Good. We’ll have more on Velasquez in the next day or so, but this does nothing to quiet the starter vs. reliever debate. One thing that’s not debatable: 2017 was a disappointing season for Vinny all around. This is his second trip to the DL this year, and he’s sporting a 5.13 ERA in 72 innings. He’s averaging 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings, which is a drop from his first two seasons, and his walks per nine innings also took a jump this year.
There’s one more DL move, unfortunately. Zach Eflin has been sent to the 10-day disabled list with a shoulder strain, retroactive to August 20. He left his August 18 start as a precautionary measure, so this will allow him to get a little more official rest. Hopefully he’ll be back by the beginning of September and he can begin chipping away at that 6.16 ERA.
The injury bug has bitten the Phillies lately, and that bug needs to die. Someone get me a giant fly swatter.