Later today, the Phillies expect to receive encouraging news on two-fifths of their starting rotation.
Roy Oswalt is expected to rejoin the team after spending a week with his family in tornado-ravaged Mississippi. He will throw a bullpen and is slotted as the starter for Saturday's game against Atlanta.
Joe Blanton will pitch off a mound for the first time in 12 days. The impingement in his right elbow that forced a disabled list stint is feeling better -- so much so that the Phillies and Blanton do not anticipate a minor-league rehab assignment.
Those developments would leave Vance Worley without a spot in the starting rotation, and rightfully so. Worley, of course, has been very good in 12 innings. The first start against New York was decent. The progression to start No. 2 was even better and that is the most encouraging thing.
But it shows Worley fully remains in the developmental stage, as he should. Worley is 23 and began 2010 at double-A Reading. His off-speed pitches are coming along, but they are not refined. That will come with more work.
The best argument for demoting Worley is for developmental reasons and it is hard to disagree. Worley best helps the 2011 Phillies as starting rotation insurance. Keeping him in the bullpen because of his effectiveness likely would not benefit team or pitcher. Sure, Danys Baez has not been good and Kyle Kendrick is shaky at times. Both have received limited chances.
Do the Phillies want those mop-up innings to go to Worley? I cannot speak for them, but likely answer is, "No." There are 133 games left in the season and I highly doubt Wednesday was Worley's final start. They will need him again, eventually, and why not keep him stretched out as a starter?
Because of that decision before, Worley was able to slip into the rotation seamlessly when Blanton was disabled. Kendrick has been rotation insurance in the past, but now he is not stretched out and that's why the nod went to Worley.
The 23-year-old may have shown he's ready to contribute on a major-league team, but not on this one. Remember these 12 innings, however, when the decision on Oswalt's $16 million option for 2012 comes to the forefront.
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