Coming into tonight’s game, the Royals and Orioles have a combined record of 21-51. Casual baseball bettors can easily get distracted by the “big games,” but every game on the slate deserves equal attention — even tilts between two bad teams destined for 100-plus losses. If you ignore those teams, you might miss out on the most value on the board.
Before we get to the prime-time blockbuster at Camden Yards, we also have one day game to talk about, as the Phillies host the Giants on getaway day in the City of Brotherly Love. The pitching matchup in Philadelphia is really interesting. The enigmatic — but sometimes electrifying — Vince Velasquez takes on Ty Blach, who is just about the polar opposite of Velasquez.
Let’s dig in.
San Francisco Giants (+119) at Philadelphia Phillies (-132) | O/U: 9
Ty Blach (3-3, 3.60 ERA) vs. Vince Velasquez (2-4, 5.14 ERA)
1:05 p.m. ET
Vinconsistent: On the surface, Velasquez doesn’t look like he’s having a productive year. His 2-4 record and 5.14 ERA certainly won’t wow anyone, but his 4.22 xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching, a more accurate measure of performance) does hint that he’s had a tad bit of misfortune.
If you dig a little more deeply, there’s some reason for optimism, even if Phillies fans have grown frustrated with Velasquez, who has a lifetime 13-18 record with a 4.54 ERA in 65 career games (53 starts).
In regard to his arsenal, Velasquez features an electric four-seamer (95 mph average) that he utilizes as an effective strikeout pitch. As a result of his plus-fastball, he ranks in the top 25 of all qualified pitchers with a 9.77 K/9 rate. He also owns the third-lowest hard-hit percentage among all qualified starters.
Pretty impressive list of pitchers — half of which reside in the NL East.
However, Velasquez really struggles with his secondary pitches — specifically his changeup and curveball. As a result, he overworks himself attempting to get strikeouts with his heater and walks too many batters. In fact, since the start of last season, Velasquez has the 19th-highest BB/9 rate (3.95) of all pitchers (min. 100 innings), and his 1.40 WHIP is the 19th-highest among all qualified pitchers. That explains why he struggles going deep into games, failing to make it past the fifth inning in 26 of his 53 career starts.
Just look at his last start in Washington. Despite allowing only one hit and one earned run, he threw 92 pitches in just five innings. In seven starts this year, he has pitched exactly 35 innings, or five innings on average. Don’t expect any real length from Velasquez today.
He’s also been victimized by the long ball, especially of late. He has allowed six bombs in his last four starts. If he doesn’t quickly start trusting and controlling his secondary pitches better, Velasquez could eventually wind up in the bullpen. He has pitched out of the pen before, and it may actually be a better long-term solution. — Stuckey