The Pittsburgh Pirates are out to a fantastic and surprising start to the season. They may be without one of their key starting pitchers for a while though as Vince Velasquez exited his latest start with right elbow discomfort.

Velasquez is enjoying a breakout season with the Pirates in his ninth season in the MLB. He has a 3.06 ERA in 35.1 innings this season with 34 strikeouts. He has three scoreless quality starts to his name.

Before getting pulled Thursday, Velasquez allowed a run on two hits across three innings. The Pirates fell to the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2, dropping to 20-12 on the season. They are in first place in the NL Central.

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The Pirates, losers of 100 games last season, look poised for a playoff run in 2023. There is still so much season left, but the Pirates have the pieces to be a talented team for an entire season. Velasquez has been just one key cog in what’s been a solid Pirates pitching staff. Pittsburgh has the ninth-best team ERA in the league.

Velasquez does not have a season in which he has an ERA of less than four. He has a career 4.84 ERA in 761.2 innings. This season has been a welcome surprise for him though, one that has unfortunately been halted for the moment by injury.

The Pirates will soon update the status of Vince Velasquez and monitor how long he will be out. Elbow discomfort could be a big nothing or a huge something. We’ll see what it means for Velasquez and the Pirates season.