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Could Phils deploy Velasquez out of bullpen?

@Russ_Dorsey1
May 22, 2019

CHICAGO -- Vince Velasquez’s journey back from injury is progressing as planned, but his return might not lead him back into the Phillies' starting rotation, at least not yet. The Phillies’ rotation has remained stable as Cole Irvin and Jerad Eickhoff have pitched well in the absence of Velasquez, who

CHICAGO -- Vince Velasquez’s journey back from injury is progressing as planned, but his return might not lead him back into the Phillies' starting rotation, at least not yet.

The Phillies’ rotation has remained stable as Cole Irvin and Jerad Eickhoff have pitched well in the absence of Velasquez, who went on the injured list with a right forearm strain on May 11.

With Velasquez's return nearing, the attention now turns to what the plan for him will be when he is back. While one option is sliding back into the rotation, with the success of Eickhoff and Irvin, being a late-inning option out of the bullpen may be a more realistic option.

“I don’t see it as a right [for Velasquez to be in the rotation]. I see it as if it’s what’s best for the Phillies,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “And if what’s best for the Phillies is that he’s back in the rotation, then he will. If what’s best for the Phillies is Jerad Eickhoff and Cole Irvin continuing to take down starts and utilize Vinny in some other fashion, that’s what we’ll do."

A move for Velasquez to the bullpen could be a blessing in disguise for Philadelphia's relief corps, with the club looking to manage its relievers' workload to keep them fresh for the long haul.

There is a reason to believe Velasquez could thrive in relief. His ability as a power pitcher could prove beneficial, and he could be used in multiple-inning situations against the heart of the toughest lineups. But Kapler won’t anoint him as the next Josh Hader just yet.

“The thing is there’s more nuance to it than just the arm and the talent,” Kapler said. “How resilient would he be in that role? How comfortable would he be getting ready that quickly? I think it requires more discussion. I don’t think we are there to make that assessment yet.”

Velasquez threw a bullpen session before Wednesday’s game against the Cubs and told reporters afterward that he felt good. He’ll have a scheduled day off on Thursday and throw again when the team gets to Milwaukee on Friday.

“After his bullpen session, we just need to make a decision on if he needs a rehab assignment, and if so, for how long?” Kapler said. “We’re just not quite there yet.”

Russell Dorsey is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @Russ_Dorsey1.