There are two important life questions we now know the answer to:
- How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? (Three)
- How many years can a pitcher survive with a team based on one spectacular start? (Five)
It seemed like it might never happen, but more than five years after turning in one of the most dominating starts in team history - and then never coming close to replicating that performance - the Phillies finally ran out of patience with Vince Velasquez in 2021.
There will be no more talk about Velasquez finally putting it all together. There will be no more talk about how actually, Velasquez’s peripherals showed he was actually better than we thought. There will be no more Spring Training stories about how Velasquez looks like he really wants to seize a spot in the Phillies’ rotation.
For Vince and the Phillies, it will no longer be déjà vu all over again. Vince Velasquez is now an ex-Phillie, and some other unfortunate fanbase will have to endure his failure to develop into a consistently good starter.
One year later, the scheduled starter for the Phillies is Vince Velasquez https://t.co/t2r8suhdkD— Smarty Jones Esq. (@TheSmartyJones) July 17, 2021
After Chase Anderson and Matt Moore bombed as the fourth and fifth starters, Velasquez was inserted into the rotation in late April. And he actually did okay for a little while. After six shutout innings against the Marlins on May 25th, his ERA was 2.95. People were slowly starting to feel optimistic that he might be a competent option for the back end of the rotation.
But anyone who’s followed the team for the past few years knew what was coming...
Over the next five starts, he allowed 19 runs in 20 innings, and was only able to complete five full innings once. Just as it seemed that the team was on the brink of finally ending the long-running experiment, he pitched seven shutout innings in his next start. That Jason Voorhees-like showing earned him five more starts - four of which were horrid.
After a two-inning/five-run outing against the Pirates at the end of August, even the Phillies’ seeming endless patience with Velasquez had run out. The team released him, and he soon signed with the Padres. (That long-ago dominating performance was against them, so maybe that was their lasting impression of him.)
If anyone thought that a change of scenery was all Velasquez needed, he quickly proved them wrong. His 8.53 ERA in four starts with the Padres didn’t do much to help the team stop their late-season collapse.
dodgers vs Vince Velasquez tonight #Padres pic.twitter.com/n2T5DPaYh6— Jim Russell (@JimRussellSD) October 1, 2021
Velasquez is a free agent, and there’s probably some team out there who thinks that they may hold the key to unlocking his potential. The Phillies will likely be seeking rotation depth, and while I hope they know better than to consider Velasquez, I unfortunately can’t completely rule it out.
Final Grade: D
Velasquez did have a brief stretch where he was a competent starter, so I can’t say his season was a complete failure. The fault lies more with the Phillies for thinking that Vince Velasquez would be anything besides Vince Velasquez.