Thursday, May 5, 2011

Can Worley Force His Way Into The Rotation?


With Roy Oswalt away from the team to deal with a personal issue, and Joe Blanton on the disabled list with an elbow injury, the Phillies have gone with a four-man rotation that has been filled out by Vance Worley.

Worley has made two starts in the last week, and has turned in two strong outings. He has won both of his starts, pitching 12 innings (six in each start) and giving up only one run. The young righthander has also only given up six hits, and has struck out 12 batters.

The early signs from Worley are very encouraging. He doesn’t seem to be bothered that he has been asked to contribute to a team that expects to contend for the World Series, and he doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed by being in a rotation with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. A pitcher needs to have strong mental makeup to succeed in the major leagues, and even though it has only been two starts, Worley has shown that he has that makeup so far.

It will be interesting if budding young hurler continues to pitch well. Will the Phillies send him back to Lehigh Valley, or will they keep him in the rotation? Right now, the Phillies will likely send him back to Triple-A. Worley’s situation is comparable to J.A. Happ in 2008. Remember in that championship season, Happ got an opportunity to start some games while Brett Myers was briefly sent down to refine his game. The lefthander pitched well for the Phillies, but they chose to send him back to the minors for rest of the season because returning Myers to the rotation made more sense.

When Blanton returns from the disabled list, the Phillies don’t have a choice but to put him back into the rotation. He isn’t suited for a bullpen role, and any trade value that he might have will diminish if the Phillies take him out of the rotation. The husky hard thrower got off to a poor start, but before going on the disabled list, he turned in a pair of strong outings. The Phillies will likely be committed to him as their 5th starter.

It also wouldn’t make sense for the Phillies to keep Worley around and put him in the bullpen. The Phillies already have Kyle Kendrick as their long reliever, and there isn’t any reason for them to carry two long relievers with the starting rotation that they have.

Worley will need to pitch in case there is another injury, so it only makes sense to return him to the minors, where he can continue to pitch regularly as a starter.

While the youngster’s two starts have come against two of the National League’s weaker teams (the Mets and Nationals), he’s turned in two impressive outings. The native Californian’s doing more than the Phillies could have hoped for, filling in admirably for Oswalt and Blanton. However, it isn’t Worley’s time to join the Major Leagues for good, but it certainly looks like he has a bright future with the Phillies.

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