Thursday, May 5, 2011

Vance Worley: Not Just a Guy With Glasses.

Vance Worley is not just a guy with glasses, he's the guy that's going to take Joe Blanton’s job.  He was called up from triple-A Lehigh Valley when Joe Blanton was placed on the DL.  Hoping to get a few serviceable starts from a young 23 year old pitcher, the Phillies have to be surprised with how well he has played. 

Worley was drafted by the Phillies in the third round of the 2008 draft.  He’s a California kid, which explains why he can pull of those glasses.  The right hander from Long Beach State has worked his way up through the Phillies minor league system with some impressive stats.  Last season he was named as an Eastern League All-Star while playing for double-A Reading.  He was also named Phillies pitcher of the month for July, 2010, when he had a 29 inning scoreless streak playing between Reading and Lehigh Valley.  He finished last season in the big leagues with a 10 inning scoreless streak spanning 4 games. 

He’s now 2-0 in two starts with a 0.75 era.  When a team calls up a pitcher their first start is usually a toss up.  They can either get overwhelmed by the moment or they can pitch quite well, usually due to the opposing team not seeing him before.  So Worley’s first start this season on 04/29 was that game, he pitched beyond expectations going 6 innings and allowing 2 hits, no earned runs, walked 4 and struck out 5.  One could chalk this performance up to the Mets not really having much to go on as far as film and experience with Worley. 

Yesterday the Washington Nationals were trying to even the three game series with the Phillies against Worley.  He again surprised everyone by how well he pitched.  He went 6 innings, allowing 1 earned run on 4 hits.  Compared to his first start he improved his walked batters from 4 to 0 and increased his strike outs from 5 to 7.  This season isn’t Worley’s first trip to the rodeo.  He was called up last season starting two games as well.  He finished his 2010 stint in the big leagues with a 1-1 record, pitching 13 total innings, allowing 8 hits and 2 earned runs with 12 strikeouts.   

The argument has to be made for Worley to stay in the rotation when Blanton his healthy enough to return.  That argument is not just based on these last two starts, but his combined performance from last season as well.  Overall Worley is 3-1 in 4 starts with the Phillies.  He has a combined 1.08 era and has struck out 24 batters to only 8 total walks.  Blanton on the other hand, is 0-1 in 4 starts this season with a 5.92 era.  Blanton has improved in every game since his disastrous first start of the season and he does tend to play well at the end of the season, but Worley is the hot hand.

What the Phillies should do is move Joe Blanton to the bull pen as a long or middle reliever.  Blanton tends to wear down in games and the opposing bats get to him between the fourth and sixth innings, this would make him a good fit for the long reliever role.  He could give the Phillies 2-4 quality innings if needed.  I know this not the popular move here, most fans would want the Phillies to trade Blanton and his value would possibly drop if he was moved out of the starter role and into the bull pen.  The bottom line is, with injury and as the season wears on, a starting pitcher or a guy that can start will be valued the same.  If the Phillies really want to move Blanton it’s going to be difficult to do so with a large salary anyway.  They should not base their decision on future trade prospects; it should be based upon which guy that gives the team the best chance to win and right now that guy is Vance Worley. 

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