Zack Wheeler was the focus of last night's Phillies (+325 to win the NL East) intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, but it was Vince Velasquez who turned heads during it. The once promising Phillies prospect has shown signs of brilliance throughout his five-year career with the Phils, but has been marred by frequent mediocre performances. Yesterday the 28-year old pitcher showed off some new and improved pitches which led to multiple strikeouts and a scoreless four innings.
The first strikeout came from a breaking ball to Bryce Harper in the first inning. The pitch wasn't his sharpest as it hung high and over the plate, but it was enough to fool Harper.
Velasquez continued to use his breaking balls effectively, especially his curveball, which he used to punch out both Scott Kingery and Nick Williams
What was most impressive was the use of his changeup and cutter. Velasquez throughout his career has only had good use of one pitch, his fastball. His misuse and inability to use his secondary pitches has plagued him throughout his career. This time out he made good use of his cutter just to mix things up, but the changeup became another pitch to put away hitters like he did against Kingery.
As for the rest of the Phillies, Bryce Harper struck out, but also doubled after a long drive to left-center field. Wheeler wasn't particularly sharp as he got smacked around a few times, but managed to still pitch four scoreless innings.
Wheeler will undoubtedly play a key role in the Phillies starting rotation. However, it's the back-end of the rotation that still needs work for the Phillies, who have a 31.5 win total this season . After his latest showing, it looks like Velasquez could be the front-runner to take the final spot in the rotation.
(All odds provided by Draftkings Sportsbook)