Phillies' Vince Velasquez: Rotation spot at risk

Velasquez's odds of securing a rotation spot to open the season could take a hit if the schedule is shortened, as that could allow the Phillies to promote top pitching prospect Spencer Howard as the fifth starter at the beginning of the campaign, Scott Lauber of The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Velasquez hadn't secured the fifth starter job before play was paused, as Nick Pivetta and Ranger Suarez were still in an open competition with him. Howard has only made six starts at the Double-A level, but his 34.8 percent strikeout rate, 0.83 WHIP and 2.03 ERA in 15 total minor-league starts last season offer a glimpse of his significant upside. The combination of Howard's talent and a potentially shortened season could conspire to relegate Velasquez to a long-relief role to start the season, though he'd likely be one of the first few options called upon should a starter get injured.

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