Some 5½ years after striking out 16 Padres on the most memorable day of his major-league career, Vince Velasquez is off to San Diego.
The former Phillies pitcher signed with the Padres Wednesday after being released on Tuesday. He is expected to start this weekend against the Cardinals, a crucial series in the wild-card race.
The Padres are desperate for starting pitching. So desperate that Jake Arrieta, 5-13 with a 7.05 ERA, is in their rotation. Blake Snell and Chris Paddack are on the injured list and Mike Clevinger has been out all season. San Diego has fallen hard in the second half, going 16-28 since July 24 and entering the night a game behind the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot.
Velasquez’ six-year run with the Phillies ended over the weekend when he was designated for assignment. It was telling that even with all of the Phillies’ pitching issues and the glaring need for a fifth starter with Zach Eflin out for the season, they did not consider bringing Velasquez back up, opting instead to use their bullpen every fifth day. Velasquez basically became an invisible man once he hit the IL with a blister on August 2. He had a 5.95 ERA this season in 21 games with the Phillies, 17 of them starts.
His Phillies career began with such promise in 2016 after he was acquired from Houston in the Ken Giles trade. Velasquez had a 2.42 ERA in his first eight starts, allowing no runs in four of them and striking out 59 in 48½ innings. It proved to be by far the high watermark of his six-year run with the team.
Velasquez will be a free agent this offseason and could be looking at a minor-league deal after making $4 million with the Phillies in 2021. He can help his cause with a couple of good starts down the stretch for the Padres.
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