VANCE WORLEY, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: September 25, 1987
Drafted: 3rd Round, 102nd overall, 2008 (Rangers)
How Acquired: Trade with Twins (for cash)
College: California State Univ. Long Beach
Agent: Wasserman Media Group
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|Worley is a back-of-the-rotation starter who relies on fastball location and groundballs. His fastball averaged a little over 91 mph when he first got to the majors, but it dropped steadily, possibly due to elbow and shoulder issues, until it’s now about two mph slower. His main secondary pitch is a slider, and he also throws a curve and change. None of these are plus pitches. He hasn’t had a platoon split; in fact, he’s been slightly more effective against left-handed than right-handed batters. After initial success in the majors with the Phillies, Worley struggled increasingly while missing time with elbow and shoulder problems. The Pirates acquired him from the Twins in a cash transaction.
Worley had little trouble with the hitters in short season and low class A ball. Baseball America ranked him the Phillies’ 16th best prospect after the season.
The Phillies jumped Worley up to AA and he had considerably more trouble, although he wasn’t as bad as his ERA indicates. He did have some trouble with gopher balls, allowing 17. He missed far fewer bats. Worley seems to have tired; after pitching well the first two months, he saw his ERA rise to 4.78, 9.49 and 5.65 from June through August.
Worley returned to AA and posted a much better ERA, although his other numbers were largely the same aside from a lower HR rate. The Phillies called him up briefly in late July and he got into one inning. They sent him to AAA after that and he pitched better than he had in AA. He returned to the majors in September and got into four games, two of them starts.
Worley opened the season in AAA, but he ended up spending most of the season in the Phillies’ rotation, mainly as a replacement for the injured Joe Blanton. He pitched surprisingly well, even posting a very good K rate, and finished third in the NL rookie of the year balloting.
Worley had much less success than the previous year, with his opponents’ OPS jumping from .673 to .806. He struggled with elbow problems, missing most of May due to inflammation and all of September due to “loose bodies.” Worley pitched well in April and June, but began struggling before both of the disabled list stints. After the season, the Phillies traded him to Minnesota.
Worley got hammered in the early going with the Twins and they optioned him to AAA in May. He ended up missing about a third of the season with right shoulder inflammation.
The Twins added a lot of pitchers after the 2013 season and, when Worley struggled badly during spring training, they put him on waivers and outrighted him to AAA after he went unclaimed. A few days later they sent him to the Pirates for cash. Worley pitched mostly well in AAA, showing exceptional control and a good K rate. When the Pirates lost both Gerrit Cole and Francisco Liriano to the disabled list (having already lost Jameson Taillon and released Wandy Rodriguez), they called him up to join the rotation. Worley became one of the keys to the team’s season, doing an excellent job at a time when the rotation appeared on the verge of collapse. He didn’t overwhelm anybody, averaging about 89.5 mph with his fastball and allowing just over one hit per IP. He walked very few, though, and didn’t allow a lot of extra base hits, so hitters managed only a .679 OPS against him. He was slightly better against left-handed than right-handed hitters and had an above-average groundball rate of 49.4%. (At 50.5%, the Pirates had the highest GB rate of any team, far ahead of the second-best Dodgers at 47.8%.) Worley’s xFIP of 3.54 indicates that he might not have pitched quite as well as his ERA indicates, but his season wasn’t just luck, either. His BABIP of .299, for one thing, was right around average. During the rare intervals when Cole, Liriano, Edison Volquez, Charlie Morton and Jeff Locke were all healthy, the Pirates went with Locke over Worley for the fifth rotation spot and moved Worley to the bullpen, although he made only one relief appearance.
Worley was eligible for arbitration and agreed to a $2.45M deal. He went into spring training figuring to compete with Locke for the fifth starter spot, with the loser (both being out of options) moving to the bullpen until a need arose for a starter. The Pirates announced the fifth starter would be Locke, but a few days later they decided to put Morton on the disabled list, leaving both Locke and Worley with starting jobs. Worley didn’t pitch well as a starter, making eight starts overall with a 4.81 ERA and 1.65 WHIP. Once Morton returned, he pitched in relief except for one July start. The Pirates designated Worley for assignment when they acquired Joe Blanton in late July. He cleared waivers, possibly because other teams didn’t want to take on what was left of his salary, and was outrighted to AAA. Worley pitched well in the Indianapolis rotation. The Pirates stated they would recall him in September, but they left him in AAA to pitch in the playoffs for the Indians, probably to keep him stretched out as a starter. They recalled him on September 15 and he pitched sparingly in relief, just three times, with three earned runs allowed in two and two-thirds innings. On the season as a whole, Worley had trouble getting left-handed hitters out, allowing them a line of 307/385/416. His xFIP of 4.32 suggests that he was, in fact, less effective than the previous year.
Despite his impressive results in 2014, the Pirates don’t seem to have regarded Worley as more than a stop-gap, as shown by their decision to expose him to waivers when they acquired Joe Blanton. He’ll be eligible for arbitration a second time in the off-season and it’s unlikely they’ll want to go that route with him. He could be a candidate to be non-tendered, as the fact that he cleared waivers shows he probably has no trade value.
|Signing Bonus: $355,000
MiLB Debut: 2008
MLB Debut: 7/24/2010
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2018
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 7/21/10
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2010, 2011, 2013)
MLB Service Time: 2.139
|June 8, 2005: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round, 607th overall pick.
June 5, 2008: Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 3rd round, 102nd overall pick; signed on June 11.
July 21, 2010: Contract purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies.
December 6, 2012: Traded by the Philadelphia Phillies with Trevor May to the Minnesota Twins for Ben Revere.
March 21, 2014: Outrighted to AAA by the Minnesota Twins.
March 25, 2014: Traded by the Minnesota Twins to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash.
June 15, 2014: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
July 30, 2015: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates; outrighted to AAA on August 7.
September 15, 2015: Called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates.