MILWAUKEE — The Phillies have made it official.
Vince Velasquez is in the bullpen.
Nick Pivetta is coming back from Triple A and will start Tuesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citizens Bank Park.
Manager Gabe Kapler is eager to see how Pivetta fares after making his last six starts at Triple A.
“We feel like there’s been some steps taken,” Kapler said. “He’s had some success and there have been some bumps in the road. [Pitching coach] Chris Young and I plan on having a good conversation with him and arming him with some information that will help him on Tuesday.”
Pivetta opened the season as the Phillies’ No. 2 starter. He was sent out after posting an 8.35 ERA in his first four starts of the season. In six starts at Triple A, he was 4-1 with a 3.41 ERA. He allowed 22 hits and 20 walks in 37 innings and struck out 50.
Equally as important in this development is Velasquez’s move to the bullpen. Though the door is not closed on the right-hander being a starter again at some point in his career, the team is committed to giving him a serious look in an important bullpen role. The team’s interest was piqued when Velasquez made a relief appearance in Friday night’s win. Featuring a fastball that touched 97 mph, he pitched two scoreless innings and struck out four (see story).
After some hesitation, Velasquez in on board with the move (see story).
“He’s like any other person, he wants to feel valued, he wants to contribute, and I think he can make a major contribution out of the ‘pen,” Kapler said. “It’s a transition for him. It’s something that people have been talking about for a really long time and now it’s time to see what it looks like."
Looking back at Velasquez’s work Friday night, Kapler said, “That was as good as it’s been, as good as Vince has been — period. With the fastball usage and the swing and the miss and the discomfort of the swings of the opposition. We wanted to get a handle on how he was going to bounce back. He was good Saturday. ‘I can do this.’ That gave us more confidence and we are absolutely prepared to use him [Sunday]."
The Phillies will have to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for Pivetta before Tuesday night’s game.
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