Vince Velasquez showcased some unusual pitch sequencing during his 16-K shutout
Pitch sequencing is an important part of a pitcher's success. Any batter can hit 95-mph heat if he sees it often enough, so the in-and-out, slow-and-fast, push-and-pull of an at-bat becomes vitally important. Sometimes, though, pitch sequencing means just throwing the same thing over and over, forcing the batter to return to those multiple-choice tests where you'd wonder, "There's no way would the answer be 'C' for all of these."
That's how the Phillies' Vince Velasquez went after the Padres' Cory Spangenberg on Tuesday. In Spangenberg's first at-bat, Velasquez threw five consecutive fastballs before the second baseman went down swinging.
Okay, sure, that was the first inning. Velasquez was just establishing the heater. In fact, he threw only fastballs throughout the inning. Not that weird.
But then in Spangenberg's next at-bat, Velasquez threw four straight curveballs before the Padres' second baseman grounded out.
Huh, that's different.
And for Spangenberg's third at-bat? A changeup. One changeup. The first one that Velasquez had thrown that day.
And finally, in Spangenberg's last at-bat, Velasquez changed the script and threw a fastball and a change piece. Which probably made the second baseman's mind just kind of explode.
As for why the starter attacked Spangenberg that way,Velasquez offered a succint explanation.
"Baseball. You've got to mix it up. You can't get into a rhythm, or else they're going to get more hits. Let it be, it's baseball. You have to adjust."
It wasn't all planned that way, either as Cameron Rupp explained. "It just happened. There was no reason really," the Phillies catcher said. "[Spangenberg's] first at-bat I think we struck him out on four pitches. Then we went curveball, curveball, curveball. There wasn't really planned. It just worked out that way."
It was all part of a truly phenomenal game for the right-handed pitcher, who was acquired this offseason from the Astros. Velasquez finished the day with 16 strikeouts, while giving up only three hits in a shutout against the Padres (who have failed to score in five of their first 10 games this year).
It wasn't just a good start, though: While relying primarily on a two-pitch mix of a mid-to-upper-90s fastball and a curve, Velasquez was the first Phillies pitcher since Cliff Lee to strike out 16 in a game for the Phillies. He also joined another exclusive club:
Velasquez finishes with a 16-K, 0-BB CG shutout. The only other active pitcher who has ever had one: Max Scherzer— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) April 14, 2016
There's also this insane stat that just seems absurd in every way: