Vance Worley to Start For the Pirates on Sunday

The Pittsburgh Pirates will bring up right-handed pitcher Vance Worley to start against the Miami Marlins on Sunday, according to Dan Zangrilli.

The move is expected, as Worley was removed from his previously scheduled start on Friday. That was partially due to the promotion of Nick Kingham, although the fact that Worley isn’t back on the schedule as a starter in Triple-A signaled that he would be up. The Pirates need a new starter in the rotation with Francisco Liriano out for a month with an oblique injury.

Worley was acquired by the Pirates at the end of Spring Training in a small trade with the Twins that sent cash considerations the other way. The Twins had planned to use him as a set-up man, and had outrighted him off the roster. A few days later, he was traded to Pittsburgh, and the Pirates intended on getting him stretched back out. Worley spent the first month of the season in extended Spring Training, getting stretched out and working with Jim Benedict on his mechanics.

The result of that work led to some strong numbers from Worley. His 4.30 ERA in 46 innings isn’t great, but his 43:4 K/BB ratio is outstanding, and projects for better results in the future. He has had previous success in the majors, with a 3.60 ERA in 264.2 innings between 2011 and 2012, along with a 7.7 K/9 and a 3.2 BB/9. His 2013 season with the Twins was a disaster, derailed due to injuries. If the Pirates can get the 2011-12 version of Worley, which appeared to be showing up in Triple-A, then they will be getting a steal in this trade, and a big boost to the rotation when it needs it the most.

Worley is out of options, so he will have to be in the majors for good. The upside is that he only has 2.033 years of service time. If he stays up the rest of the year, he’d end the season with 2.139 years of service time. That would make him arbitration eligible after the season, but would give the Pirates four more years of control beyond 2014 if he does work out.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • freddylang

    I think he will be in the rotation to stay if he can continue to pitch anywhere close to how he did at Indy. He should benefit a lot from a major league defense behind him.

    • Ian Rothermund

      Who is coming out of the rotation then? Locke has done really well so far, and the leading candidate to leave all season (Volquez) is doing really well right now as well. Or will the Bucs just have an 8 man rotation?

      • SteveW

        If Worley pitches well, then it’s likely Cumpton when Cole returns. Then they will have a tougher decision when Liriano is back – but that is likely at least a month down the road.

        • bucsws2014

          If Worley shows more in his couple of starts than Cumpton has, that should be a pretty easy decision to make. Cumpton has been a serviceable back end guy this year, nothing more. I don’t think he has a significant upside remaining unless he comes up with a good changeup.

          The issue with Worley will be similar to Locke. His success is very dependent on the ump’s strike zone and willingness to call strikes just off the black.

          • Ian Rothermund

            Why is everyone anointing Worley as a new stud on the pitching staff? There aren’t even any pitchers projected to miss a substantial amount of time. He has done nothing for this team, ever. All Cumpton has done is pitch well, aside from the Dodger game this year, and Locke is looking like he did the first half last year. Worley is a junk baller, if he does well, awesome. However, I’m not relocating to some alternate universe where he deserves to be on any Pirates depth chart ahead of Cumpton or Locke. It looks like Cole should be back as soon as his dl stint is up, so that leaves two spots.

            • SteveW

              Three reasons:

              1. Worley has pitched better at AAA this year than either Cumpton or Locke ever did.

              2. Before some arm and control issues, Worley was a very good MLB pitcher. Third in rookie of the year voting, plus a very good ERA+ and a very good FIP.

              3. Cumpton (and Locke) both have options left. Worley does not. So I doubt the Bucs would bring him up if his results at Indy didn’t make it appear that he would pitch well enough to stay up.

              However his future status will depend on how he pitches while he is up.

              BTW. Worley had a K rate of over 8 per 9 innings when he was pitching well. Hardly a junk baller at that time. In AAA this year, it is 8.4 – much higher than that of Cumpton or Locke.

              • Jared

                1. Is completely false. Have you looked at how Cumpton pitched in Indy this year?!

                2. I agree with this, and this, I think, is the bigger point. A couple years ago Worley was the “next big thing” for Philly.

                • SteveW

                  Yes, I look at those figures constantly. Worley has a much better FIP, a much better K rate, a much better K:BB ratio and an identical WHIP. So I repeat, Worley has pitched better at AAA this year than Cumpton.

            • bucsws2014

              In his six starts this year Cumpton has had one good outing, two just above average outings, two below average outings and one disaster.

              If you take away the disaster, he’d be sporting a 3.72 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, which isn’t bad. If you then also take away his best start (his first of the year), the other four starts come out to a 4.09 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.

              That’s a classic #5 pitcher.

              Let’s see if Worley can do better.

            • SteveW

              Worley: 7 scoreless innings, allowing only 5 baserunners. Now has he “done something for this team”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

    Is it already time to do a review of Polanco-Marte-McCutchen batting 1-2-3 in the order? 15-33, 7 runs, 9 RBI, 2 wins in 2 games. So much speed on the bases it’s hardly fair.

    And McCutchen has now officially gone nuclear. His 14-day split is .408/.473/.959/1.432, 6 HR, 9 doubles, 11 runs, 15 RBI. Dude is going to make a run at back-to-back MVPs.

    • bucsws2014

      This particular order with Marte sandwiched between Polanco and Cutch is a huge benefit to Marte. He’s already seeing better pitches. That kind of front and back protection is exactly what he needs to feel free to be his usual freeswinging self.

      When Walker comes back I do hope Hurdle just slides him into the 4 spot. Bat Pedro 5th, then Martin, then Ike.

      I know Hurdle would never do this, but while Walker is recuperating, I’d strongly suggest putting JHay at cleanup, followed be Pedro/Ike, then Martin, then Ike/Pedro.

      • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

        Walker at 4 would finally give McCutchen some protection. Could you imagine if pitchers consistently had to throw hittable stuff to McCutchen?

      • Ian Rothermund

        How on earth has Pedro earned the right to be the lefty batting first in the middle of the line up? I’m a Pedro fan, and he is even doing better than expected in the AVG dept., but until he gets on a hot streak, he’s just fine batting in the 6/7 area in my opinion.

        • bucsws2014

          Unlike Marte, I honestly don’t think it matters all that much where the heck Pedro bats. If he’s going to be cold, he’ll be cold wherever he’s batting. And if he’s going to be hot, same thing.

          I don’t care if Pedro’s batting average is up if all he’s doing is hitting singles.

        • Matt Beam

          Pedro should hit 6th, he’s too streaky, when he’s not hot he won’t offer any protection for Cutch… while Marte is swinging well he should stay at #2, Ike at #4, Walker and Martin at #5 and #7… if Marte gets back into a funk, drop him to #7, Martin to #5 and Walker back to #2

    • William Wallace

      Let’s hope that Phil Jackson I mean Clint Hurdle doesn’t start to re-juggle when Walker get’s back. Can we see Alvarez batting seventh?

      • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

        Let’s hope Clint doesn’t fall in love with zero-bat-all-glove Michael Martinez like he did with Rod Barajas a few years ago, and like he nearly did with Brandon Inge early last season!!!

  • R Edwards

    Does anyone have any idea what happened to Nick Buckner this year? He is not on any of the minor league rosters, nor on the projected roster for Jamestown. I thought he really came on strong last year, although drafted right of HS. Is he injured??

    • jschwartz

      I didn’t follow him at all. What year was he drafted, what round?

      • R Edwards

        Last year – out of Houston, TX area HS

        • SteveW

          Don’t know how he did at the end of the year, but his overall stats weren’t very good for the entire year. Possibly a candidate for Bristol.

  • NSA

    Asssuming Worley and Locke and Cumpton will all have at least 4 more starts to see how they fit in this rotation the real question might be what happens short term with Liriano? He has been rough this year, which may be because his injury was affecting him all spring BUT this is really in line with the way he was pitching for a couple years before the Bucs resurrected him last year. He certainly was no more a lock to succeed than Volquez. If, when he comes back WoLoTon are all pitching well, Cumpton will have to go down due to options but then I only see Liriano getting 2/3 starts to establish his value… if it’s #1 starter again he stays, if mediocre trade him and bring back Cumpton I say.