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It was more of the same for Vince Velasquez in 2019

We’re still waiting on that breakout

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Cleveland Indians
This picture of Vince Velasquez was assuredly not taken in the eighth inning
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The numbers

33 games, 23 starts, 7-8 W-L, 4.91 ERA, 25.2 K%, 8.3 BB%, 0.6 fWAR

The good

Velasquez wasn’t the most disappointing member of the Phillies’ rotation in 2019. That honor belongs to “#2 starter” Nick Pivetta.

Velasquez showed occasional flashes of brilliance with an overpowering fastball. Unfortunately, those flashes came far too infrequently.

The bad

For the third straight season, the Phillies front office expressed hope that Velasquez would break through and fulfill the potential he showed back in that memorable start of April 2016. And for the third straight season, Velasquez disappointed them.

The season started off well enough, and Velasquez had an ERA of 2.73 at the end of April. But after a couple of starts where he couldn’t last past the fourth inning, the team finally did what fans have been demanding for years: Make him a reliever.

The Vince as reliever experiment lasted one inconsistent month, until the Phillies, having run out of healthy alternatives for the rotation, decided that he was a starter again. He spent the remainder of the season doing the same exact thing that he had done the previous three years: Alternating between good starts which usually maxed out at six innings, with clunkers that required a reliever before the fourth inning.

The future

Trading for Velasquez was Matt Klentak’s first major move with the Phillies, so there’s suspicion that he is really invested in seeing Velasquez fulfill his supposed potential. But the guy is heading into his age 28 season, and hasn’t shown any signs of improvement over the past few seasons. At some point, the team needs to accept that his amazing start in 2015 was a fluke that isn’t going to be repeated.

He should probably begin the season in the bullpen, but unless the team makes another move to acquire a veteran starter, he’ll probably enter camp in a competition for the final spot in the rotation.