Red Sox: There should be excitement for Hector Velazquez

KANSAS CITY, MO -JUNE 19: Hector Velazquez
KANSAS CITY, MO -JUNE 19: Hector Velazquez /

Due to injuries Hector Velazquez will start the year in the Boston Red Sox rotation. There are quite a few reasons to be excited about his presence.

The Boston Red Sox pitching staff has suffered quite a few injuries before the regular season has even started. Due to that, Hector Velazquez will start the year as part of the starting rotation. It’s easy to be upset that Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz aren’t ready for Opening Day. Velazquez is here to relieve some of that pain though.

The Red Sox brought Velazquez to the organization in 2017 after a number of years in the Mexican League. He spent the majority of last season in Triple-A where he was utterly dominant.

In 19 starts, Velazquez threw 102 innings and posted a 2.21 earned run average. Opponents hit just .213 against him and his walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) was a tight 1.00. Those numbers led to him getting multiple opportunities on the big league roster.

His first appearance in the Majors came in May, and it didn’t go well. Velazquez gave up six runs on nine hits (three home runs) in five innings. This came out to a 10.80 ERA and led to a demotion back to Triple-A. It also gave some people the feeling that he simply wasn’t a Major League pitcher. I still find this hilarious, as you can’t make that assumption after one start, but I’m not about to go off on that rant again.

Velazquez proved them wrong quickly, as his ERA would drop in every MLB appearance he made for the rest of the year.

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He was awarded another opportunity in June. In his first appearance back he threw 3 1/3 shutout innings in relief, allowing just one hit. This was good enough to give him another shot in the rotation, and the right-hander delivered a solid performance (two runs over 5 1/3 innings).

Over final five appearances in the Majors, Velazquez would throw 11 innings. In that time, he gave up zero runs on just six hits.

What started as a 10.80 ERA ended the year as a 2.92 over 24 2/3 innings.

So Velazquez was a massive success in both Triple-A and the Majors last season. That’s one reason to get excited about the pitcher right?

Then there’s his opponent. Velazquez is set to start off his season against the Tampa Bay Rays. You know, the team that got rid of its best offensive talents this offseason. That includes Evan Longoria who saw his immense talent wasted in a miserable lineup for years.

With that in mind, Velazquez should get a favorable matchup in his first start of the year. A strong start to the year could quickly get the 29-year-old into a comfortable groove.

The Spring Training numbers weren’t great for Velazquez this year, but he did end on a fantastic note. He threw four shutout innings against the Chicago Cubs on March 27 as his final tuneup for the regular season.

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It appears Velazquez is ready to go for the regular season. He should be a solid piece of the Boston Red Sox rotation for however long they need him. There are plenty of reasons to be excited for 2018 when it comes to the Red Sox, and this fresh(ish) face should be one of them.