Phillies SP Vance Worley. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
With all the talk about the four aces coming into the 2011 season, Vance Worley wasn’t expected to contribute much. In fact, Worley wasn’t even expected to make the big league club.
However, key injuries to guys like Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton allowed Worley to make his way onto the major league roster in the middle of the season.
It was Worley’s play that allowed him to stay. The 24-year-old righty went on to go 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA in 21 starts for the Phillies.
He surpassed all expectations that anybody could’ve imagined.
But Worley will be expected to duplicate his 2011 success and and avoid the quintessential sophomore slump? The Long Beach State product could be a huge part of the Phillies pitching staff this year.
There are no more four aces but Worley is more than capable of holding his own.
He only gave up four runs or more four times last season. Worley also put together a stretch where he didn’t lose a game in 14 consecutive starts. He also spent a good portion of the season with an ERA under two.
Many pitchers are measured upon what they do against the teams in their own division. Those teams see those pitchers more often so the pitcher is at a greater risk to get hit around because teams are so familiar with them.
That was not the case with Worley in 2011. He went 6-1 with a 1.45 ERA in 11 starts against the NL East.
In two starts against the Atlanta Braves, Worley went 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA. The Braves were arguably the Phillies biggest competition last season and are expected to be again this year.
With a sophomore slump on the minds of Phillies fans, the Sacramento native got his first start of the spring this past Wednesday against the Houston Astros. Unfortunately, he did get hit around early.
The first two Astro hitters reached base and Jordan Schafer ended up scoring on a ground out.
The second inning wasn’t much better for worry. He issued a walk and a few hits. The lead-off walk led to an RBI single by Jason Castro.
He did load up the bases with one out but was bailed out by an inning-ending double play courtesy of Jimmy Rollins.
In his two innings pitched, he gave up two runs on five hits with one walk. He tossed 40 pitches in that span.
It may have not been the best outing for Worley in his opening Grapefruit League start but there’s no real reason for concern.
In all of his 2011 starts where he allowed four runs or more, he bounced back in his next start by allowing two runs or fewer.
Worley quietly put together a spectactular season last year and will only get better as he gets more adjusted to being a major league pitcher.
With the fifth starter spot likely going to Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick, Worley will be depended on even more this season. Worley will and should have a very productive year. Maybe not as stellar of a record as last year but he should reach double digits in wins.
Being around Cy Young caliber pitchers like Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, Worley should be to find a way to stay sharp and have another fantastic campaign in 2012.