Philadelphia Phillies: Possible rotation replacements for Vince Velasquez

May 30, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (28) leaves the game in the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
May 30, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Vince Velasquez (28) leaves the game in the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /

After exiting Tuesday’s game after just 19 pitches with a flexor strain in his right elbow, the Philadelphia Phillies need someone to replace Vince Velasquez in their rotation.

Velasquez’s spot will need to be filled for a prolonged period of time. The timetable for a flexor strain if surgery is not required, is about six to ten weeks. For reference Mets pitcher Steven Matz was diagnosed with a flexor strain in early April and has not returned to the majors yet. The strain happened in Velasquez’s right elbow which is a cause for concern since the righty had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in 2010. Velasquez’s injury and Zach Eflin being sent down open up two spots in the Philadelphia Phillies rotation for the upcoming series against the Giants. Here as some pitchers who could see their names penciled in as the starting pitcher.

Nick Pivetta

Nick Pivetta is the obvious choice to replace Eflin’s spot in the rotation. The 24-year-old already pitched in the majors when he filled in for Aaron Nola. His turn in the rotation lines up perfectly with Eflin since both pitched on Sunday. And in the one start that Pivetta had with Lehigh Valley after his short stint in the majors he lowered his AAA ERA to 1.41 and earned his fifth win. With a second shot in the rotation, this time for an extended period the Philadelphia Phillies could get a good look at this hard throwing righty.

Ben Lively

Ben Lively is also capable of stepping right in a filling Elfin’s spot without a hitch since Lively pitched on Saturday. Lively, although called up to sit in the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen on multiple occasions, has not yet made his major league debut. Instead Lively has maintained success from his outstanding 2016 campaign where he won 18 games in AA and AAA. So far for Leigh Valley, Lively is 6-1 with a 2.40. Lively is known for his ability to pound the strike zone with four different pitches. If this is Lively’s first chance in the big leagues don’t be surprised if he gets shelled a couple of times adjusting to the MLB. Like Eflin’s debut in Toronto, last season MLB hitters could feast off someone who stays in the strike zone.

Jake Thompson

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The last prospect to be considered for a steady spot every fifth start for the Philadelphia Phillies is Jake Thompson. Thompson pitched Tuesday night so he would be on par with Velasquez’s start. But Thompson has struggled to maintain the previous success he had in Lehigh Valley during the 2017 season. He has posted a 2-5 record with an ERA over 5. Thompson, like Lively, was called up multiple times to give the bullpen relief. However, Thompson saw action in three games this season but boasts a woeful 9.00 ERA in those appearances. If Thompson is chosen to replace Vince in the rotation it could mean he made the adjustments the Phillies wanted him too. And it could give him an extra bode of confidence if given a regular role on the big league team.

Adam Morgan

If Adam Morgan is picked to be the replacement for Eflin or Velasquez it would show the Phillies don’t have confidence in their prospects in the Majors. Morgan has been called up and down all season after a disastrous 2016, and an even worse 2017. Morgan has yet to start a game at any level in the 2017 season. But for his career, he has started 36 games at the Major League Level. Since Morgan was used predominantly as the long-man for both the Phillies and the Iron Pigs. Therefore he is stretched out enough to hop right in the rotation.

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Mark Leiter Jr

Mark Leiter Jr is a darkhorse candidate to take over for Velasquez. Leiter replaced Vinny after he was removed from Tuesday’s game. He did not last one inning after being shelled for five runs, four earned. Leiter has been only used out of the bullpen in the majors but has started 69 games in the minors. If Leiter is picked to replace Velasquez would be like picking Morgan, showing the Phillies front office does not have confidence in their prospects. And although very unlikely, don’t be surprised if the Phillies try to stretch him out against Atlanta next week.