The San Diego Padres thought they had plenty of starting pitching going into the season. They had Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, Joe Musgrove, Adrian Morejon, Chris Paddack, Ryan Weathers, and Dinelson Lamet as options to start games. However, that group of starters has narrowed to three players--Darvish (who gave up seven runs in his last start), Musgrove, and Weathers (who was so ineffective in the rotation that he was moved to the bullpen).
Because San Diego needs more arms to start games, they signed Vince Velasquez to a minor league deal on Wednesday. He is expected to start on Friday in the series opener in St. Louis against the Cardinals.
“It’s unfortunate that they lost two of their starters, but I got a lot left in the tank,” Velasquez told reporters early Wednesday night. “I’m here to demonstrate what I’m capable of doing and try to help them out.” Time will tell if he’s able to do so.
Some Padres fans might not know much about Velasquez, so here’s a primer about who he is and what he could bring to the club in the final weeks of the regular season.
Velasquez, 29, got released by the Philadelphia Phillies earlier this week after being designated for assignment. He was a young starter who Philadelphia believed could play a significant role in their starting rotation along with Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin. Unfortunately for both parties, he just wasn’t able to consistently produce on the mound.
In six seasons with the Phillies, Velasquez owned a 4.93 ERA while averaging 1.5 HR per nine innings. In his last three seasons with Philadelphia, Velasquez couldn’t get his ERA under 4.90 in any season and he currently has a 5.95 ERA this year going into his first action in a Padres uniform.
After seeing his recent numbers, you may be asking why the Padres chose to sign him when he has struggled throughout his career. The simple answer is that they need arms. Ideally, all Velasquez has to contribute to the rotation the rest of the season is a couple of spot starts because that would mean that Snell is back from the 10-day IL (groin). And perhaps Velasquez can have a couple of good starts down the stretch. He’s done it at times this year.
For example, Velasquez only allowed one run to the Milwaukee Brewers in six innings of work on May 3. In fact, that was the first of five consecutive appearances where he allowed one or zero runs. More recently on July 17, he pitched five scoreless innings and allowed one single hit against Miami. What garnered him success was that he hit his spots, especially up in the zone with his mid-90’s fastball.
Yes, those good starts were months ago. He hasn’t pitched in a big league game since July 30. But if we’re talking about Velasquez from an optimistic point of view, perhaps the time off helped him reset and get his arm fresh.