Pittsburgh Pirates Place Vince Velasquez on the Injured List, Activate Chase De Jong

May 4, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA;  Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (27)
May 4, 2023; St. Petersburg, Florida, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (27) / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

In a move that unfortunately seemed inevitable, the Pittsburgh Pirates have placed Vince Velasquez on the IL as their already thinned out starting pitching depth suffers yet another blow

It was a move that seemed inevitable following Thursday’s loss in Tampa Bay. Anytime a pitcher exits a game with elbow discomfort after rubbing their elbow on the mound, it tends to end in an injured list stint. Well, that is where Vince Velasquez and the Pittsburgh Pirates are at now.

Prior to the start of Friday’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays, the Pirates placed Velasquez on the 15-day injured list with right elbow inflammation. Right-handed reliever Chase De Jong was activated from the injured list to replace Velasquez on the active roster.

The Velasquez injury is a real shame. The 30-year-old veteran was pitching the best baseball of his major league career. Owning a 3.06 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 8.8% walk rate, and 23.0% strikeout rate, he was off to the best start of his career.

Furthermore, Velasquez’s slider is a pitch that appeared to be developing into a real weapon on the mound. It is possible that Velasquez was a pitcher who was finally turning a corner, and not just having a flash in the pan type of start to the season.

Losing Velasquez is yet another blow to the team’s starting pitching depth. JT Brubaker and Mike Burrows have already been lost for the season to Tommy John surgery and Quinn Priester has struggled mightily, especially with his fastball, at Triple-A. If the Pirate starting rotation suffers another injury the team could be in a lot of trouble.

As for De Jong, he owned an 8.53 ERA and a 6.05 FIP in 6.1 innings pitched out of the Pirate bullpen before being placed on the injured list. Odds are, De Jong will now work as a long/mop up duty man out of the team’s bullpen.

Odds are the Pirates will look to add another starting pitcher to their active roster prior to Tuesday’s game against the Colorado Rockies. Odds are it will be righty Luis Ortiz who impressed with the Pirates last September and is off to a great start at Triple-A this season.

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