Let’s Watch Vincent Velasquez Mess With Cory Spangenberg by Jeff Sullivan April 14, 2016 Against an admittedly terrible Padres lineup, Vincent Velasquez just pitched the game of his life. No matter how high you are on Velasquez’s potential, you should agree he’ll probably never again finish with such a sparkling line: nine innings, no runs, three singles, no walks, 16 strikeouts. Velasquez was constantly around the zone, but the Padres couldn’t do a thing, and the Phillies allowed Velasquez to get the final out because he hadn’t yet thrown a single pitch under stress. Velasquez didn’t just pitch to that final line; he cruised to it. It was an incredible, overpowering effort, and I’m going to write more about Velasquez tomorrow. I’ll write more about the game, and more about Velasquez in general. But my favorite part wasn’t how Velasquez worked, or finished. Rather, my favorite part was how he treated Cory Spangenberg. Now, I don’t know if it was by design. But Velasquez wound up facing Spangenberg four times, and he was awfully cruel. Spangenberg was batting second for the Padres. Even if you didn’t know anything about Cory Spangenberg, just based on his name, you could probably guess he’d bat second. He was sandwiched in between Jon Jay and Wil Myers. So, Spangenberg got his initial look at Velasquez in the top of the first. While Spangenberg was in the on-deck circle, he watched Jay strike out on five consecutive fastballs. It was immediately obvious that Velasquez had some heat, so Spangenberg went up prepared. He got a first-pitch fastball and fouled it off. That was as good as he’d do. Velasquez never backed down. Spangenberg was behind pitch No. 3: He was again behind pitch No. 5: Spangenberg was looking for something else. He didn’t get it. Velasquez struck out the side in the first on 16 fastballs in a row. Spangenberg got another shot with two down in the top of the third. He was the 11th batter, and Velasquez had started the first 10 off with heaters. Based on the pattern- So then that was in Spangenberg’s mind. He saw the game’s first first-pitch curveball. That was a twist, but still, Velasquez’s fastball had been overpowering. As a hitter, you look for that pitch. Spangenberg kept looking for it: That contact was so poor Statcast didn’t register an exit velocity. Spangenberg kept expecting the fastball. Velasquez kept expecting Spangenberg to keep expecting the fastball. The next chance came with one out in the top of the sixth. Jay had just struck out against a high fastball. By this point Velasquez had established both the fastball and the curveball. Spangenberg got it in his head to hunt a first-pitch heater. Velasquez had been aggressive and all around the zone, and he probably wouldn’t throw another first-pitch curve, right? So Spangenberg was ready to hack: Subtle, but beautiful. With one out in the top of the sixth, Velasquez threw his first changeup. Spangenberg went after it and got in front, popping out harmlessly. Three at-bats, three different first pitches. One at-bat was all fastballs, one at-bat was all curveballs, and one at-bat was a changeup. Spangenberg might not have thought he’d get another look. He might not have wanted another look. But he would bat against Velasquez again, in the ninth. What do you look for on the first pitch when you’ve gotten three different first pitches? The answer is, you wait, and hope maybe there’s an earthquake. Sorry, Cory, no earthquake. You gotta stay there. What are your thoughts about Velasquez’s stuff? Anyway, Velasquez was ahead 0-and-1, and that left Spangenberg in a hopeless place. He’d seen everything. The fastball had been almost untouchable. The curve was knee-buckling. The changeup was somewhat present — Jay had just seen one, and Spangenberg had already seen one. Nothing left to do but swing and get out of there. Spangenberg leaned and threw his hands at the ball. To his credit, it goes in the books as a liner: But it was a soft liner. Statcast put it at 75 miles per hour. It was the best that Spangenberg did. He made contact for contact’s sake, and he just about put a blooper into shallow left. No one was going to mistake that for a piece of quality hitting, but I’m not convinced quality hitting was going to be possible against Velasquez on Thursday afternoon. That was an unforgettable performance. It was the kind of game that can convince Phillies fans good days aren’t too far away. Sustained good days, I mean, because Thursday was a good day, because Vincent Velasquez obliterated the lineup pieced together to face him. Velasquez and the Phillies had themselves a good day. Velasquez made sure that Cory Spangenberg had a bad day. I don’t know what Spangenberg ever did to Velasquez, but I hope it was something, because it would be unsettling for this to be random.