On paper, the Padres Thursday loss to the Phillies was just another Padres shutout. Another wasted pitching performance from their own, as Drew Pomeranz indeed pitched six solid innings and allowed just two runs while striking out 8. Yet they ran into rookie Vincent Velasquez who pitched himself into rare company with his complete game performance Thursday.
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Velasquez struck out 16 in his 3 hit complete game shutout. The Phillies record for total strikeouts in a game is 17 – that was set in 1961 by Art Mahaffey. The Phillies record by a left-hander is 16 set by Steve Carlton. Pretty good company there.
His 25 strikeouts in his first two starts (scoreless mind you) are the most by a Phillies pitcher since at least 1913. Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning had the previous record at 20 set in 1964. Velasquez came over in last winter’s trade for Ken Giles, who now is having troubles of his own (so far) in Houston as the set-up man but is expected to be the closer of the future. Meanwhile young Velasquez and other talented Phillies pitchers are surprising some people – even if the game was just against the Padres who have now been shut out in as many games as they have scored.
So it might not have mattered what the Padres did on the mound anyway Thursday, but Drew Pomeranz did turn in another quality start for the Padres staff. In fact the worst starting pitchers have been the three pitchers that the Padres were hoping to lean on this season in James Shields, Andrew Cashner, and Tyson Ross.
The Phillies aren’t so unlike the Padres either…at least maybe last years Phillies team. The 2015 Phillies held on to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and other past stars. However, by the end of the season, they had dumped Utley and Hamley and Howard was lifted for a pinch hitter in this series. He did smack his third home run of the year though Thursday and against the lefty Pomeranz at that. The Phillies developed Ken Giles into a closer last year and then were able to swap him for Velasquez Billy Beane style – a trade that is paying early dividends.
The Padres are still stuck in the middle of it all, with both aging veterans in Alexei Ramirez, Shields and Matt Kemp along with youth in Wil Myers, Spangenberg, and some young starting pitching. Whether Tyson Ross is traded or not this year will be a big question, and we can only hope that the rumors about a Pablo Sandoval / James Shields swap are more rumor than fact. The Padres will be better than they are playing right now, but it needs to start happening soon or another gloomy season will be here by the middle of May. Thursday Vince Velasquez showed what it looks like when a team decides to rebuild with young talent, and that team took a big step forward Thursday afternoon.