Phillies righty Vince Velasquez is headed for surgery to address a vascular problem that has caused issues with Velasquez’s right middle finger, manager Pete Mackanin tells reporters including MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki (via Twitter).
It’s never great to end a season with a medical issue, but it sounds as if Velasquez will not require a terribly significant procedure. GM Matt Klentak tells Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link) that Velasquez will only need six to eight weeks of recovery time. Philadelphia has already placed Velasquez on the 60-day DL.
Today’s news raises new concerns for the talented 25-year-old, who has dealt with some arm issues and questions about his long-term role while also flashing quite a lot of talent through his first 258 2/3 MLB innings. Velasquez broke into the bigs with the Astros, but moved to Philadelphia as part of the trade that sent young closer Ken Giles to Houston.
Velasquez made 24 starts for the Phils in 2016, posting a solid 4.12 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. Sporting a 94.7 mph average fastball velocity and 11.2% swinging-strike rate, Velasquez was dominant at times. But he was also touched for 1.4 home runs per nine innings, a problem that has grown in 2017.
Thus far in the present season, Velasquez has permitted 1.88 long balls per regulation game while carrying only about half the K%-BB% (10.8%) that he did last year (19.4%). The results have followed, as he has only lasted 72 innings over 15 outings and carries an ugly 5.13 ERA.
Despite those struggles, Klentak says that the organization still views Velasquez as a starter. Indeed, there’s little reason for the team not to keep giving him opportunities to stick in the rotation. The Phils likely won’t view themselves as likely contenders in 2018, Velasquez has shown an intriguing ceiling.
So long as Velasquez can return to health by the time camp rolls around — and he’ll have plenty of time to do so — the Phillies will likely pencil him into one of the team’s five starting slots. Philadelphia has a variety of internal options who’ll likely do battle, though, and seems likely to introduce some veteran competition (if not commit a rotation spot or two to a free agent or trade target), so nothing will be assured.