Vince Velasquez is the best groove of his career
Throughout his major league career Vince Velasquez has struggled to find consistency. This contributed to him being moved to the bullpen by the Chicago White Sox last season, where he found more success than he has as a starting pitcher.
When the Pittsburgh Pirates signed Velasquez this past offseason there was some wonder if he'd be in the team's starting rotation or bullpen. After all, in his career he had pitched better out of the bullpen than he had as a starting pitcher. Well, Velasquez is proving everyone who thought that way wrong and is in the best pitching groove of his career.
After pitching 6 scoreless innings against the Nationals in Saturday's doubleheader night cap, he is now up to a career best 18 consecutive scoreless innings pitched. On the season, Velasquez has posted a 3.06 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 8.8% walk rate, and a 23.4% strikeout rate in 32.1 innings pitched across six starts.
Velasquez has also done a tremendous job limiting hard contact. His average oppoentn exit velocity of 87.1 MPH is more than 3 MPH below league average and in the 75th percentile of baseball, while his 33.7% hard hit rate is more than 2% below league average and in the 71st percentile of baseball. Opponents are not barreling the ball against Velasquez, as his opponent barrel rate of 6.5% is in teh 61st percentile of baseball.
Through the first month of the season Velasquez is well on his way to putting together the best season of his MLB career. If Velasquez continues to pitch this well it will go a long way toward keeping the Pirates in contention into the summer months and beyond.