Injury Concerns Part Of Vince Velasquez Baseball History
On Wednesday Phillies starter Vincent Velasquez was pulled from the game after two Fastball clocked at 87 MPH. This happened following Velasquez telling the training staff that the Biceps muscle in his throwing arm was tweaked during his warm up throwing session before the game.
After the game Velasquez told reporters that last time he felt this issue was before he had to have Tommy John surgery in 2010 which led to a two year recovery. He was ranked as a top 100 prospect in Baseball before the 2015 season and was a key piece of the Ken Giles to Astros deal before the 2016 season.
PhillyVoice.com Phillies Beat Writer Ryan Lawrence was a guest on The Sports Bash on Wednesday and talked about why Velasquez having arm problems is a concerning issue:
"When everybody saw Vince Velasquez this Spring (Training), when they saw that 16 strikeout game, everybody was like 'How the heck did they get this guy for Ken Giles in addition to the package they got back?' Well this is part of why they got him back, there's concern over his arm. There was even some after they agreed on the trade and that's part of the reason why Mark Appel was put in this trade for a little bit more insurance, getting a little bit bigger of a package back and just increasing your chances that someone will pan out....Durability's been an issue, he's had injuries, like he's had Tommy John (surgery). This is just part of Vince Velasquez's baseball history is that he has had health issues and yeah this is concerning. He is a young kid and hasn't even had a full year in the big leagues and it seems like even in the Minor Leagues he hasn't been able to get through a full season healthy."
When looking back on Velasquez's time in the Minor Leagues he only pitched in over 20 games once in four years back in 2013 when he pitched 124.2 innings. In 2015 he pitched in 9 games in the Minor Leagues and 19 games in the Majors for the Astros but combined to only throw 88.2 innings. In 2016 Velasquez has started 11 games and pitched 61.1 innings at the age of 24 years old. To outline some more context to this issue, Velasquez had Tommy John surgery at 18 years old which is relatively young for such a procedure.
It is because of this history of arm issues that many analysts have suggested Velasquez future in the Majors is not as a starting pitcher but as a Closer. Baseball history is full of Closers who were once starting pitchers such as Goose Gossage, Lee Smith, John Wetteland, Mariano Rivera, and Jonathan Papelbon. All of these players spent part of their early careers in the Minor and Major Leagues as starting pitchers then for various reasons got moved to the bullpen and proceeded to have successful careers as Closers. All of those men have compiled over 300 Saves in their careers.
I may be jumping the gun but this may be just another sign that Velasquez arm cannot handle the load of innings and high pitch counts that comes with being a starting pitcher. With an electric arm and a great fastball, Velasquez future may be as the next Phillies Closer instead of their future Ace.
Checkout what Lawrence had to say about Ryan Howard's transition to a part time player in 2016, who he thinks may be the next young starter to make the jump from the minors to the majors for the Phillies, and his thoughts on the upcoming MLB Draft in which the Phillies hold the number one overall pick