Vince Velasquez might be the fifth starter for the Philadelphia Phillies, but he has the confidence of a staff ace.
The right-hander looks to build on a strong season debut Thursday as the Phillies try for a third straight win and series victory over the visiting San Diego Padres.
Acquired from Houston in a seven-player December deal that sent closer Ken Giles to the Astros, Velasquez allowed three hits and struck out nine over six innings Saturday to help Philadelphia (4-5) end an 0-4 start with a 1-0 victory over the New York Mets. Velasquez, who made seven starts and appeared in 19 games as a rookie last season, opened with 16 straight fastballs - clocked between 92-95 mph.
"Just go out and dominate," he told MLB's official website.
"(I wanted) to go out there and make a statement ... to show that we're capable of winning and we're not losers.''
Though Velasquez is at the back of the Phillies' rotation for now, manager Pete Mackanin believes good things are in store for the spirited young man who turns 24 in June.
"He exudes energy," Mackanin said. "It's almost like he pitches with a chip on his shoulder.
"He's going to be a good one. Coachable, great kid, a true competitor."
Making his first appearance against San Diego (3-6), the southern California native will try to help Philadelphia move to .500 after starters Charlie Morton and Jerad Eickhoff combined to allow seven hits and fan 16 over 13 2-3 scoreless innings of the last two contests.
"It's no secret these guys are good," Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp said of the team's young but talented rotation. "It seems like they're literally going to see who can do better each night."
Maikel Franco homered, doubled and drove in both runs Wednesday for the Phillies, who won for the fourth time in five games with a 2-1 victory. Franco, 5 for 11 in the series, is batting .379 with two homers.
"I'm feeling pretty good, hitting the ball pretty good," he said. "I want to continue to do that, continue to make adjustments on the pitches and try to be ready every single day."
One night after being shut out for the fourth time, the Padres' 20-inning scoreless streak ended with Brett Wallace's RBI single in the ninth.
''We've got to focus on our hitting and not be concerned about the pitcher," San Diego manager Andy Green said.
Matt Kemp went 1 for 4 for a second consecutive contest, but is 2 for 16 in four games since going 9 for 15 in the previous three.
Drew Pomeranz takes the mound after winning his Padres' debut Saturday. The left-hander, who came over in a five-player trade with Oakland in December, gave up two runs, four hits and three walks in five innings but struck out seven and was the beneficiary of 10 runs during San Diego's 16-3 rout of Colorado.
"Everything was working pretty good," Pomeranz said.
He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in three starts against the Phillies, but last faced them in 2014.
Carlos Ruiz is 2 for 3 with a double against Pomeranz and Franco has a hit in two at-bats.