Pivetta to Start, Phillies to Keep Velasquez in Bullpen
When the Phillies optioned pitcher Cole Irvin to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the team did not commit to a starter. They still did not commit even after the man whose rotation spot Irvin was occupying - Vince Velasquez - returned. We now know who will take that rotation spot next and it is neither pitcher.
The Phillies announced on Sunday that Nick Pivetta will return from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to start on Tuesday as the Phillies host the St. Louis Cardinals. The move means that Velasquez will officially join the bullpen. Velasquez gave the Phillies two shutout innings on Friday and is available to serve in a relief role.
Pivetta was coming off an International League Pitcher of the Week honor. After being demoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after his fourth major league start, Pivetta went 4-1 with a 3.41 earned run average. Pivetta was 2-1 with an 8.35 earned run average in his time with the big club in 2019.
Pivetta spent the entirety of 2018 with the Phillies, making 32 starts and one relief appearance, going 7-14 with a 4.77 earned run average.
For Velasquez the move could be considered a demotion, but the Phillies bullpen could use a consistent arm. Already down veterans David Robertson and Tommy Hunter, the Phillies lost Pat Neshek to the injured list with a shoulder strain on Friday. Neshek would pitch in late inning, high-leverage situations for the Phillies.
Should Velasquez embrace the role and can replicate his two-inning dominant relief outing from Friday, he would be just what the Phillies could use right now. Velasquez struck out four getting those six outs. Velasquez earned the win for his efforts.
Velasquez was 2-2 with a 3.86 earned run average as a starter.