Phillies

Vinny Velo is stylin’ with skinny pants, leather slippers and seven innings of two-run ball

Vinny Velo is stylin’ with skinny pants, leather slippers and seven innings of two-run ball

PHOENIX — A couple of weeks ago, Vince Velasquez decided to change his look a little.

He put in an order for some new game pants, something tapered at the calf.

Skinny pants, you might say.

“Just a different look,” Velasquez said.

He laughed.

“Tell me I look sexy, that’s all.”

Um. That’s for someone else to say, but we can confirm this: Velasquez looked pretty good on the mound Monday night. He finally conquered his personal enemy, the middle innings, in helping the Phillies open a seven-game road trip with a 7-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The victory improved the Phillies to 59-53 and left them tied with Washington for the NL wild-card lead.

Velasquez completed six innings for just the second time in 14 starts this season. In all, he pitched seven innings of two-run ball.

Did he prove anything to himself?

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “It shows that I can do it. I can go deep into games.”

With Jake Arrieta, reduced to a five-inning pitcher by a bone spur in his right elbow, taking the mound on Tuesday night, the Phillies may need to go deep into their bullpen. So it was good that Velasquez produced his longest start of the season and did not tax the bullpen.

Velasquez did not have his best fastball early in the game and he struck out just three batters. But he got outs in key situations and kept his pitch count in check. He was backed by a couple of important double plays, one that he started with a cat-like break off the mound and a whirling dart to third base.

“I think Vinny likes being known as the best athlete on the field and he looked like it tonight,” manager Gabe Kapler said.

“I think that was one of the first times this season where he seemed to get better as the game matured. Around the fifth inning, the velocity started ticking up a little bit and you saw him executing at the top of the zone. Earlier in the game, he was struggling to get that ball up there. But he did a really good job staying efficient throughout and gave us a chance to win that game.

“There’s no reason this can’t be the catalyst for more confidence and belief in himself that he can pitch deep into game for us. I think that’s the kind of momentum we have to ride and those are the things right now that we have to cling to so there’s definitely reason for optimism there.”

A lot more than just starting pitching went right for the Phils. They played excellent defense in the infield (Rhys Hoskins) and outfield (Adam Haseley).

And they got a lot of timely hitting. They were 5 for 19 with runners in scoring position. They were 5 for 26 with runners in scoring position while losing two of three to the White Sox over the weekend.

Jean Segura, batting fifth, drove in a pair of runs with a pair of singles. Scott Kingery homered. Not to be outdone by Velasquez' new skinny-pants look, Bryce Harper killed his beard and carried his bat more upright. He had a pair of hits.

Even Velasquez made a contribution at the plate with a sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning that helped set up a run.

Those skinny pants — he said he ordered them at the urging of some friends — weren’t the only fashion statement that Velasquez made on the night. He conducted his post-game interview wearing leather slippers, the kind a granddad might wear around a crackling wintertime fireplace. Only thing was, this was Phoenix and it was 109 degrees outside, 76 under the dome.

“They’re comfortable,” Velasquez said. “They’re just relaxing slippers. Find whatever you have to do to prepare yourself for the game and be a little more relaxed.”

As Lenny Dykstra once said, whatever it takes, dude.

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At the Yard podcast: 3-batter rule, DH dynamic, NL East predictions

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At the Yard podcast: 3-batter rule, DH dynamic, NL East predictions

Ricky Bottalico and Corey Seidman discuss one big rule change, another on the horizon, and make their NL East predictions in the latest At the Yard podcast.

• How does the new 3-batter rule for relievers change their mentality?

• Which Phillies relievers does it affect the most?

• If the DH does come to the National League in the next two years, how would it help the Phillies?

• Both guys are still vehemently anti-DH.

• Fan Q&A.

• NL East win total predictions.

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Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Spotify / Stitcher / Art19

The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The DH sucks but would undoubtedly help the Phillies

The designated hitter coming to the National League is an inevitability. To some, it's a welcome inevitability. Personally, I hate it, but I acknowledge I'm probably outnumbered.

It's not about watching pitchers hit. That is the over-simplified one-line response from DH proponents. It is about many additional elements of strategy not having a DH adds. If you're a pitcher, it affects how you approach the 6-7-8-9 hitters. There is more thinking ahead. 

That goes for managers, too, who face the difficult of question of, "Do I pull Jacob deGrom with two outs and two on in the bottom of the sixth inning in a scoreless game for the extra offense?"

That doesn't happen in the AL. The Justin Verlanders of the world pitch until they're no longer effective. There is no difficult decision for the manager. 

There is also less need for a bench. AL teams sometimes run three-man benches. And plenty of AL bench players exist only as defensive replacements and/or pinch-runners.

But whatever. It's probably coming. Could be coming as early as 2021, according to Jim Bowden.

It would actually benefit the Phillies, though. The Phils face a potential logjam in the corner infield with Rhys Hoskins, Alec Bohm, Scott Kingery and Jean Segura. Only one of them can play third base. And Hoskins or Bohm would be at first base. If the DH came to the NL in 2021, the Phils could just slot Bohm into that position.

They could also use Hoskins, who isn't exactly an above-average defensive first baseman, as the DH. And toward the end of Bryce Harper's 13-year contract, his days of effective right field defense could be over and that may be the ideal spot for him.

It will be an adjustment when the NL rules change, and there will be some hard feelings, but the baseball world will probaby get over it within a few years. MLB has already adopted the three-batter rule for relievers, altered active rosters to 26 and prevented teams from utilizing their entire 40-man roster in September. These changes, in conjunction, are pretty significant too.

Subscribe and rate At The Yard:
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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Phillies