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Padres notes: Vince Velasquez latest veteran pitcher signed, as Blake Snell goes on IL

San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego Union-Tribune
 2021-09-16

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The Padres will not have to use their bullpen to get through two consecutive games.

Instead, they will on Friday use the second veteran free agent pitcher they signed off the street after his former employer let him go.

As they did with Jake Arrieta in August , the Padres on Wednesday signed Vince Velasquez to a minor-league contract with the plan to start him two days later.

They will likely go with a bullpen game Thursday to fill the spot of Chris Paddack, who was placed on the injured list Monday with elbow inflammation. Velasquez will start Friday in St. Louis in place of Blake Snell, who was placed on the IL on Wednesday with a left adductor strain.

“It’s unfortunate they lost two of their starters,” Velasquez said. “But I’ve got a lot left in the tank. I’m here to demonstrate what I’m capable of doing and help them out. I know this is a big moment for the squad. … I have three weeks to help them in a push.”

Velasquez, 29, was released Tuesday by the Phillies, who had designated him for assignment Friday.

The right-hander has a 5.95 ERA in 21 games (17 starts, 81 2/3 innings) this season.

He was expected to be a central piece of the Phillies rotation after posting a 2.70 ERA in his first seven starts with the club in 2016, which included him shutting out the Padres in his second start. He finished his time in Philadelphia with a 4.92 ERA in 152 games (123 starts).

“It’s a business,” he said. “There are some pros and cons to it. I think I’ll just hold onto that. I see it as another opportunity at hand. It’s a step in a new direction. It’s an introduction to show my talent and what I’m capable of doing, to showcase what I can do for next year. … I know what I’m capable of doing. I know it hasn’t been the strongest year, but I think the new scenery, I think a new team, new management, new players will help me get my head straight.”

Velasquez, who threw in the bullpen Wednesday at Oracle Park, is from Pomona and sounded thrilled to be able to play near home.

“I want to be on the West Coast, and I want to shove,” he said.

Not catching up

Among the many things that have not gone according to plan this season has been the workload and production of the Padres catchers.

Austin Nola, who was to get the bulk of the starts, fractured the middle finger on his catching hand in spring training and was out until late April. The he sprained his knee in late May and was on the injured list until late July. His start Wednesday was his 42 nd of the season and 28 th start in the past 47 games.

Victor Caratini’s 316 plate appearances entering Wednesday’s game were almost 40 more than he has ever had in a season. His 77 starts are 29 more than his previous career high, set in 2019.

The Padres also relied on highly ranked prospect Luis Campusano, who started nine games in April, and 31-year-old Webster Rivas, who made his major league debut near the end of May and started 17 games while Nola was out the second time.

A breakdown of the Padres’ broken-down offense (18 th in the majors with a .717 OPS and 14 th with 4.5 runs per game) shows just how little the catchers have contributed.

The nine home runs by Caratini (six), Nola (one) and Rivas (two) were second fewest by any team’s catchers heading into play Wednesday. The Padres catchers’ combined .579 OPS was fourth lowest.

Nola, who has made 173 of his 624 career plate appearances this season, has essentially never been at full strength for the Padres. He suffered a foot fracture shortly after arriving via trade in 2020.

He is batting .248/.324/.327, all of which are well below the averages he brought into this season.

“It took some time for sure,” Nola said of getting back on the field this year. “… I’d like to say there’s more. All I can do is put up consistent at-bats right now. That’s all I can do.”

Caratini’s batting average (.213), on-base percentage (.297) and slugging percentage (.307) are all severely off his career numbers as well.

Notable

  • Yu Darvish, Manny Machado, Joe Musgrove, Emilio Pagán and Caratini wore No. 21 on Wednesday as Major League Baseball honored the legacy of Roberto Clemente.
  • The Padres recalled right-handed reliever Shaun Anderson from Triple-A, two days after he was optioned, to replace Snell on the roster.
  • Jurickson Profar batted leadoff for just the sixth time this season and the first time since June 5. Said manager Jayce Tingler: “Looking for a spark.” Profar, who started in right field, entered the game with a .341 on-base percentage and generally sees more pitches than any other Padres player. He is also a switch-hitter, which appealed to Tingler in that the Giants were using their bullpen to get through Wednesday’s game.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune .

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