Vance Worley: The Future for The Vanimal

Vance Worley, affectionately referred to as The Vanimal,  will take the mound for the Phillies tonight against the Cincinnati Reds.  He has done a great job filing in for Charlie Manuel in limited opportunities over the last two years, but role with the team is sure to greatly expand in 2012.

If the Phillies have a healthy pitching staff heading into the second half of the year, Worley will be back at AAA Lehigh Valley, but it should be his final pit stop in Allentown before returning to The Show for good.  I have to believe that Vance Worley will be in the starting rotation as of Opening Day next year.

Worley has appeared in 9 games for the Phillies in his career (4 starts) and he has compiled a 3-1 record with a 1.24 ERA.  He is also getting a front-row seat watching Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels pitch almost every night.  That is invaluable experience for a young pitcher trying to break into the Major Leagues.

How will Worley get a shot to be a starter next year?  There are two possibilities.

First, Roy Oswalt has indicated that he may retire at the end of the 2011 season.  It’s not as if Oswalt is old or unproductive, however he refuses to refute that he’s considering an early retirement.  If Oswalt leaves, Worley could step in as a much cheaper alternative.  You would still have Halladay, Lee and Hamels headlining the rotation.

The other scenario, if Oswalt returns, involves trading Joe Blanton.  During the winter, teams looking for a reliable starter would certainly inquire about the Phillies’ oft-forgotten fifth starter.  Blanton is under contract for 2012 for $8 million, and would be a steady pitcher who typically gives his team 200 innings each year.  If Blanton moves on, Worley could step into the back end of the rotation.

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