By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
Thursday morning I was listening to one of the local sports talk shows and everyone appeared to be gushing over the performance of Phillies rookie pitcher Vance Worley, who had a pretty good outing Wednesday night in the Phils 7-4 win over the Washington.
Worley has done well in his last two starts. He has a 0.75 earned run average and has allowed just one run in his last two appearances as a starting pitcher. Against the Nationals earlier this week, Not bad for a rookie.
With Worley’s early success, there are more than a few sports talk radio fans who are saying that it’s time to trade Joe Blanton to Outer Mongolia and put Worley in his place as the team’s fifth starter. Blanton is currently on the disabled list and might be ready to come off sometime early next week.
While I am just as impressed with what Worley is doing on the mound in the early going, I think the young man has a long way to before we can annoint him as the second coming of Steve Carlton or the fifth starter for this team.
I’d like to see what Worley can do when teams have faced him on a couple of times and the “book” is out him-when teams figure out how to attack his strengths and exploit his weaknesses. Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee said he likes Worley’s repetoire of pitches as well as having a good arm.
“That always the test when people get more information about you,” Dubee said. “But the one thing you like about Vance is that he’s got ‘pitch-ability’. It’s not like he’s stuck just doing one thing. He can back-door you with breaking balls, he can front-door with that sinker like he did against lefthanders (Wednesday night), so he’s got some weapons and he’s got some knowledge. This game’s always about adjustments.”
Back in 2007, Kyle Kendrick, who came up from Double A Reading, led all National League rookies with 10 wins, but struggled so much the next season he had to spend some time in the minors to develop an arsenal of pitches.
“Kyle didn’t have a repetoire, he had a sinker. He didn’t have the cutter or the changeup, but Vance has more weapons,” Dubee said.
Dubee said adding more pitches helped Cole Hamels become much better than he did when was the most valuable player of the 2008 World Series.
“He’s got four options,” Dubee said of Hamels. “He was a very good pitcher when he got here, but he was 50-50. He didn’t use his curve ball much, he didn’t have to. As the league saw him, especially in our division (NL East), they could pick one pitch or one side. Now it’s four pitches. It’s a battle up there against him He pitched a game in Boston last year where you saw Boston hitters take fast balls that were down. They never saw come out of his hand.When he’s creating that angle you can only see the top part of the ball.
In a game where pitchers have to tweak a few things in their game, Dubee said he tells young hurlers that they have to keep track of hitters and the kinds of pitches they’ve thrown to get guys out.
“You gottta be aware of what hitters are doing and where you’been to hitters before,” Dubee said. “I try to tell minor leagues guys you should have books on every hitter you face. You should be able to write how you want to approach them and be able to write after every game what they did andM what they looked like. That’s because good players in the minor leagues are going to be facing those players in the major leagues eventually.”
Worley will eventually improve and along the way he’s going to take his lumps. But unless Blanton sustains another injury or any other pitcher goes on the disabled list , you’re not going to see Worely cracking the starting rotation anytime soon.