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Vincent Velasquez's dominance is speeding up the Phillies' rebuild

Wednesday's Say Hey, Baseball includes surprising dominance from a Phillies' starter, the Braves' firing of Fredi Gonzalez, and a goodbye to Tim Lincecum.

Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

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Vincent Velasquez was the headlining piece for the Phillies in the Ken Giles trade. Mark Appel was the bigger name, sure, but he was (and is) more of a change-of-scenery kind of prospect at the moment, a former first-overall pick the Astros felt they were better off moving and the Phillies were happy to take a chance on in their rebuilding situation. Velasquez was the centerpiece, but even with that designation, he's performing in a way that is surprising just about everyone.

Immediately after the trade, there was discussion of how Velasquez would begin his career as a starter, but might eventually become the replacement for Giles, the Phillies' closer. The stuff was there, the velocity was there -- all the kinds of things you'd love to see out of a shutdown closer. A funny thing has happened in his early run in the rotation for Philadelphia, though: Velasquez has been dominant in the role, and might be a far more important piece going forward than a potential shutdown closer.

Eight starts into the year, Velasquez is striking out 11 batters per nine while averaging six innings per start. He's kept the ball in the park and has limited walks enough that his strikeout-to-walk ratio sits at four. To this point, in a rotation that also has Aaron Nola, it's been the 24-year-old Velasquez posting the best numbers for the Phils. If Velasquez and Nola continue to thrive and the Phillies don't need to go out and find an expensive number two starter, this whole rebuilding thing is going to be sorted out in a relative hurry given the rest of the talented youth already on board.