The Philadelphia Phillies have begun to distance themselves from the rest of the National League East and seem like a lock for the postseason. This team was clearly built to "win now" with the acquisitions of Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee.
The Phillies general manager, Ruben Amaro, clearly made an executive decision in the offseason that starting pitching is the top priority of this team, and they will lead them back to glory in 2011. Even with injuries to Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton, the Phillies continue to win thanks in large part to the emergence of "The Vanimal" Vance Worley.
Worley has been a diamond in the rough this season and has an ERA under 1.00 over his last five starts. Worley does not have an astounding fastball or a devastating breaking pitch, but he does locate his low-90s fastball extremely well (with movement) and has a slider that keeps hitters honest.
It seems pretty clear up to this point that hitters have not been able to track Worley's pitches very well. In 10 starts this season, Worley is 6-1 with a 2.02 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
Even more impressive is that he has only allowed 48 hits in over 62 innings. Jeff Francoeur may have called Citizens Bank Park a "bandbox," but Worley has only allowed two homers thus far.
Phillies fans may forget that Worley's lone loss came after he was delegated to the bullpen for nearly a month and forced to make a spot-start against the Cincinnati Reds. Worley even admitted that he began to tire after three innings in the Phillies’ 6-3 loss on May 24.
Worley has been spectacular since he has been pitching on a regular work schedule. The Phillies are clearly in pursuit of a right-handed hitter, but would it be smart to include Worley in on a deal?
ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reported that the Phillies had scouts at the Mets game on Wednesday night, and the Mets are aware of what the Phillies have in Vance Worley. Worley has already faced the Mets three times this season and is 2-1.
The Phillies have a team that was built to go as far as their starting pitching would take them, but do they really want to see a repeat of what happened last year to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS? Beltran would fill a huge void for the Phillies and would only improve their chances of making their third trip to the World Series in four years.
What makes Vance Worley so different than a guy like J.A. Happ? Both pitchers are projected to be a No. 3 starter at best and had great success when they first entered the majors.
Happ has struggled mightily this season with the Houston Astros, which may prove that the scouts were right about him. Will Worley have the same kind of success when opposing teams develop a book on him?
The Phillies cannot let the brilliance of Vance Worley blind them from the fact that he is a third starter at best down the line. Also, they can not balk at the chance of acquiring Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence by keeping Worley.
The Phillies tied a record for most wins before the All-Star break and seem poised to have the best record in MLB for a second straight year.
For all of the naysayers that claim the Phillies need to keep Vance Worley because their staff is too old, I'd like to remind them that they have a ton invested in Halladay and Lee for the foreseeable future, and Cole Hamels is not going anywhere.
Those three horses are more than capable of carrying this team for at least the next three seasons and then another Vance Worley—Cosart, Colvin, Biddle or May—will be ready to shine. The Phillies need to move Vance Worley if it is all that stands in the way of them acquiring a marquee name like Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence.
Let's see if Ruben Amaro can steal the show at the trade deadline for the third year in a row, and Phillies fans will have even more of a reason to plan for another parade down Broad Street.