Phillies decide to shut down Velasquez

Phillies decide to shut down Velasquez

PHILADELPHIA -- Vince Velasquez threw his final pitch of the 2016 season Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies and his agent had been closely monitoring his workload since the beginning of the year, and it was determined that Saturday would be his final start. Velasquez made it count. He allowed five hits, three runs and struck out eight in seven innings in a 6-4 loss to the Braves in 10 innings at Citizens Bank Park.

"This is just the ending point for now," Velasquez said.

Velasquez joined the Phillies in December as the key piece in the Ken Giles trade with Houston. He made the rotation out of Spring Training and opened his Phillies' career in dramatic fashion. He pitched six scoreless innings against the Mets on April 9 and struck out 16 in a shutout against the Padres on April 14.

He finished 8-6 with a 4.12 ERA in 24 starts, striking out 152 batters and walking 45 in 131 innings. He spent some time on the disabled list in June with a strained right biceps. He struggled in the second half to pitch deep into games as he routinely racked up high pitch counts.

"Things could have turned around a lot better, but things happen," Velasquez said.

But he said he learned a lot.

"I dealt with a lot of adversity and failure and managed to somehow pick myself back up and finish strong," he said. "On a serious note, I think I've matured pretty well."

He said he plans to learn a lot more in the final month of the season, too.

"Just sit down, watch the game and learn as I go," Velasquez said. "It's not the end of the road now. It's all about learning the game and knowing how to get better for next year. This game is fun to learn. That's pretty much all I'm going to do."

In fact, Phillies catcher A.J. Ellis gave Velasquez a homework assignment for September. Velasquez has always enjoyed watching Zack Greinke pitch. In fact, he said he sees some similarities with their fastballs and power changeups, so Ellis has asked Velasquez to spend the rest of the month watching Greinke pitch last season when he was with the Dodgers.

"With the Dodgers it was just phenomenal how he utilized his changeup that much and protected his fastball," Velasquez said. "I'm kind of like the same way. I think that's pretty much the objective. Just go back to last year's film and watch what he does and pretty much apply it to myself for next year."

For Velasquez to take another step next season he will have to polish his secondary pitches and pitch deeper into games. He knows this.

"He had a good season when you look at it, all things considered," Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.