The Phillies and Twins are in the middle of playing out a particularly brutal series, in which the reasons they are last or second-to-last place teams are brazenly on display. One bit of good news for the Phillies, however, is that their 24-year-old starter Vince Velasquez may soon rejoin their rotation.
Velasquez made a rehab start with the team’s Triple-A affiliate, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, on Wednesday night and made it clear afterward to CSN Philly that he was chomping at the bit to return to his team.
"Well, I mean, I went 76 (pitches) ... that was pretty much today's objective, to go at least five and get 75 in," Velasquez said. "So I did that. Talking to [the Phillies, they] pretty much [want] me to go two, but I'm good, I'm ready to go. ... If it was my choice, yeah, I'm ready to go."
Velasquez left his last big league start on June 9 after two pitches, having suffered what was called a right bicep strain. Both pitches had dipped well below the velocity Velasquez has established in his arsenal, but in last night’s start, he was back to hitting 94-95 m.p.h. with his heater and even hit as high as 97.
While Velasquez is confident he is ready, the decision will ultimately be the Phillies’. As their priority is likely player development, not a pennant race, the team may err on the side of caution and have him make another start in the minors. The Phillies’ rotation without Velasquez sports a 4.66 ERA. While he had come out of the gate pretty hot, Velasquez had begun to allow more home runs and his ERA had taken a bounce skyward in his last four starts; though in that time he had faced the dinger-happy Detroit and Chicago lineups.
When he does return, it is being predicted that, rather than Zach Eflin, who had taken Velasquez’s spot in the rotation, embattled starter Adam Morgan will be the arm Velasquez replaces upon his return. Morgan has a 6.55 ERA through 11 starts. Opponents have a .320 BA against him.