VANCE WORLEY
RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
Born: September 25, 1987
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 230
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
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.

2008
A-:  0-0-0, 1.12 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 8.0 IP, 1.1 BB/9, 9.0 K/9
A:  3-2-0, 2.66 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 61.0 IP, 1.0 BB/9, 7.8 K/9

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.

2009
AA:  7-12-0, 5.34 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 153.1 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 5.9 K/9

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.

2010
AA:  9-4-0, 3.20 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 112.2 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 6.6 K/9
AAA:  1-3-0, 3.77 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 45.1 IP, 2.0 BB/9, 7.1 K/9
MLB:  1-1-0, 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.3 K/9

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.

2011
AAA:  5-2-0, 2.31 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 50.2 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 8.9 K/9
MLB:  11-3-0, 3.01 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 131.2 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 8.1 K/9

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.

2012
MLB:  6-9-0, 4.20 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 133.0 IP, 3.2 BB/9, 7.2 K/9

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.

2013
AAA:  6-3-0, 3.88 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 58.0 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 5.3 K/9
MLB:  1-5-0, 7.21 ERA, 1.99 WHIP, 48.2 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 4.6 K/9

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.

2014
AAA:  3-2-0, 4.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 46.0 IP, 0.8 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
MLB:  8-4-0, 2.85 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 110.2 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 6.4 K/9

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.

With Liriano and Volquez set to become free agents, and Morton out for the start of 2015 due to hip surgery, Worley has a good chance of returning to the team’s rotation.  Ideally, the team would go into spring training with Worley and Locke competing for the fifth spot, but that might not be practical.  In any event, Worley figures to play a meaningful role.  He should be eligible for arbitration as a “super two.”

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2012: $495,000
2013: $525,000
2014: $527,500
PLAYER INFORMATION
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
TRANSACTIONS
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.