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Sending Vance Worley Down: The Right Move

Should one of the rotation starters go down, Worley is ready to step in at AAA.

With Roy Oswalt rehabbed from lower back inflammation, the Phillies opted to make room for him by displacing Vance Worley to Lehigh Valley. It's an interesting call for a front office that has a history of opting for veterans over prospects. But in this case, it's the right one.

Vance has been a little mishandled in 2011 and has still performed much higher than he was thought capable. After four starts in AAA, he got the call when Joe Blanton went down and responded with two terrific starts in the big leagues. But when Joe came back, Charlie bumped him to the pen, where he has pitched his last two outings. Now that Little Roy is back, rather than keep him around to stay in the bullpen, Ruben Amaro sent him down to LHV to keep his arm loose.

Worley's 40/12 strikeout to walk ratio between two levels and 38.2 innings is impressive. It's not top of the rotation impressive, but for a high-signability college kid from Long Beach State, it's really nice. Oswalt has been solid as well, though injury issues (and family issues) that come with getting older hampered his ability to go deep into games. Blanton hasn't performed well, mostly as a result of the insanely high percentage of ground balls that have been finding holes. He's throwing more ground balls than ever before but because of a BABIP against of .360, his standard numbers aren't showing it off.

Because Worley is best-served for this club as a starter both next year and this year in case of more rotation injuries, it's the right call letting him go back to Lehigh Valley and keep his arm stretched out for long innings. It's tough to make the transition to starter and reliever back and forth (ask Scott Mathieson), so it's easier for him and the club to let him stick with one. Otherwise they'd be left going to Drew Carpenter for spot starts and that just won't fly.

Joe Blanton's numbers will improve, not because he's pitching badly, but because it's statistically probable that he'll find the mean eventually. With Worley in their pocket as 6th starter, the Phils don't have to worry about a huge falloff when one of the big guns goes down.