OK, we've finally found a down side to having a rotation that features four All-Stars. . .
A guy like Vance Worley probably isn't going to be able to stick on the active roster, despite impressive performances in all four of his big league starts to date.
Worley could theoretically stick around for the next few weeks in the bullpen, where the Phillies are currently carrying just six pitchers. Assuming catcher Carlos Ruiz is ready to play by this weekend, the Phillies could option third catcher Dane Sardinha back to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, re-opening the seventh relief role that they have kept filled throughout most of Charlie Manuel's tenure in Philadelphia.
Worley, who allowed one run with seven strikeouts in six innings last night, could be that guy. He has certainly earned the opportunity to pitch in the big leagues. But there has been zero indication that the Phillies would seriously consider giving away Joe Blanton's job, particularly since the veteran righthander is coming off two solid outings.
So the bullpen, maybe?
First, a few things to keep in mind. . .
1) Worley is only a few months older than Domonic Brown, the organization's top prospect and a guy who is still young enough for people to attach the dreaded "not ready" label. The point: Worley is still young. Heading to the minors is something that 23-year-olds do.
2) Righthander Kyle Kendrick has appeared in just one game in the last eight days, and Danys Baez has logged only three innings since April 23. If you were going to try to find a spot for Worley to fit onto the roster, Kendrick or Baez's spots in the bullpen would be the places to look. First, Kendrick has pitched well as the long man this season. Second, and most importantly, Worley simply would not be in line to see regular work here. Not with the way Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo have pitched in front of Ryan Madson. If Kendrick and Baez are not getting regular work, how will Worley?
3) Righthander Jose Contreras is hoping to be back with the team by the end of the month. At which point the Phillies would likely have to option Worley back to the minors anyway.
As good as Worley has pitched, you have to think the front office is leaning toward sending him back to Lehigh Valley once Joe Blanton is activated from the disabled list. A lot could change. Blanton could have a set back. Another starter or reliever could get hurt. Or the Phillies could decide to leap-frog Worley over a couple of guys in the bullpen.
For now, though, the feeling is that Worley will wind up in Lehigh Valley. Not that he hasn't earned the chance to stay.
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