Heading into this series with the Cardinals, it felt like a good litmus test for the Phillies. They had faced some teams in the NL East that were down right now and it felt good to get out and see how they might fare against some of the other teams in the National League that they might end up fighting for a playoff spot in the next few months.
It did not start off very well.
In a nationally televised game on ESPN, the offense was DOA, only able to muster five singles against the outstanding Miles Mikolas and the rest of the Cardinals’ pitching staff. As far as highlights, there really weren’t any for the Phillies. It was another game on the road where they just looked flat and not ready to play.
Post game, though, it was a different story. All during the game, we saw that Vince Velasquez and JT Realmuto could not get on the same page. There was a lot of shaking off by Velasquez, something that was brought up during the postgame interviews. From Jim Salisbury:
After the game, Realmuto voiced frustration that Velasquez did not follow his game-calling more.
“It definitely affected the game,” Realmuto said of Velasquez’s frequent shake-offs. “It’s surprising. I don’t really know, for some reason we couldn’t get on the same page tonight. Obviously, it had an affect on the game. It’s never good when a pitcher and catcher can’t get on the same page. We’ve already discussed it. We talked about it right after the game. So hopefully we fixed it for next time.”
It’s rare to have a catcher come out and talk openly about not being on the same page as the pitcher, but as Realmuto himself said, they (Realmuto and Velasquez) had already discussed it, which probably made him feel a little more comfortable talking to the beat writers about it. Again, from Salisbury:
“It’s a little frustrating, of course,” Realmuto said. “Vinny has a ton of confidence in his fastball. That’s one of the reasons he’s so successful. It’s a really good pitch. I’m sure he learned tonight that there are certain times where you need to go away from it and use something different. But you can’t hate him for loving his fastball. He’s just got to be a little bit more aware of about when to use it and when not to use it.”
We’ve heard about read about Velasquez and the mental side of the game that he is still working on. That side was one of the reasons why Realmuto was brought to this team.
The Phillies acquired him not only for his bat and his defense but for his ability to work with a pitching staff and call a game. Realmuto studies video and goes over the game plan with pitching coach Chris Young and the staff. It then becomes up to the pitcher to follow that plan
Nights like these happen and will happen again this season. A pitcher feels very comfortable with a pitch and wants to use it, even if the catcher does not want him to use it. It’s happened countless times in baseball history and will happen countless times again. However, it would behoove not just Velasquez but the rest of the staff to make sure they have placed their full trust in Realmuto and his game calling prowess. It can help them as they keep going in this season.