One of the great things about getting out to the park early and chatting it up wit ha bunch of awesome White Sox fans is that you can really get the pulse of the fans. Yesterday was no exception and the question I had for everyone was “How do you feel about Vince Velasquez today?”
There were mainly two answers:
Gonna need a LOT of beers
Just hope he keeps the Sox in the game
How’d that go?
From what I can tell, #1 definitely happened for a number of us. And #2 was accomplished. Velasquez pitched 4 innings giving up only 1 run. That run came on a laser of a HR from Eugenio Suarez. This is toward the higher end of outcomes you could have expected.
So how did it look?
For one, something I thought we’d see was less of a pitch selection. Having thrown 5 different pitches throughout his career, my assumption was that Katz would try to limit that to his 2-3 best pitches. However, that is not what we saw yesterday. In just 62 pitches, he threw his 4-seamer, slider, curveball, sinker, and changeup.
While the results were good, it could have easily been much worse. Velasquez only struck out 2 while walking 3. That kind of ratio is not something you want moving forward. Though it might be all right if you’re creating a lot of groundballs. Unfortunately that was not the case. A majority of his batted balls were of the flyball sort. Not great in Sox Park and worse when 58% of his batted balls were considered hard hit, 25% considered barrels. His chase percentages were below league average as well. So overall, he wasn’t getting hitters to chase balls out of the zone and when they connected, they hit the ball hard as hell. Kudos to the defense (and the inbound winds) for helping keep the score low.
There were some good signs though. The vertical movement on both his 4-seamer and curveball were above average. I could see the curveball being used as a wipeout pitch if one of his other pitches becomes strong enough to act as his secondary pitch. In relief, he may mainly use these two pitches. He also kept the ball in the park despite the amount of flyballs he gave up. Wind or not, that was good.
The end result was exactly what the White Sox needed with both Lance Lynn and Lucas Giolito on the IL. With some days off and Johnny Cueto ramping up, Velasquez might not be called on for too many more starts. So I am going to enjoy this victory and not concern myself with what could have gone wrong.