Last year at this time, Vance Worley was set to be the Twins' Opening Day starter. Not an ace by any means, and lacking years of experience, his start was an indication that Minnesota's rotation was not going to be super competitive. However, he had taken well to the Majors the previous year and seemed a perfectly serviceable hurler to take the mound on day one.
Clearly, things have changed for Vance.
The poor Phillies went from four aces to three when Roy Oswalt was injured, but went back up to four after replacing him with Worley. He came up and went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA, 119 SO, 46 BB, 1.230 WHIP. 55% of his strikeouts were called third strikes (second in MLB), and he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting after being a complete stranger to scouts and analysts when he was called up. He had goggles. He had "Vanimal" written on his glove. He was funny, funy, and well-spoken.
And that strut.
Not bad for a kid stricken with control issues, according to Baseball America, as he entered the 2008 draft. When he a threw complete game against the Giants - the Giants whose upset of the Phillies in the 2010 NLCS still fresh on everyone's minds - he solidified himself as a fan favorite.
And that was a game in which Chase Utley hit an inside-the-park home run. Fan favoritisim wasn't readily available for new guys.
In 2012, his pitches found more bats, and he gave up more runs, though his walk numbers stayed almost completely still. His first half was some solid upkeep of his previous campaign, to the thrill of fans watching a team on its to not making the playoffs.
But the league had a book on him now, as was the case with Kyle Kendrick and J.A. Happ before him; guys who came up, appeared sharp, and then got beat up their second time around the NL. Also not helping was the bone chip in his elbow, which was removed surgically after he was shutdown in August.
The Phillies decided to sell as high as they could on Worley, and used him as the bargaining chip (along with top pitching prospect Trevor May) to refill their hole in center field by trading for Ben Revere of the Twins.
Which is how Worley came to find himself on the mound at Target Field on Opening Day, 2013. But he wouldn't be there for long. Worley went into a nose-dive for the Twins, giving up 46 hits and 23 earned runs in 28.2 innings in April. May went just about as well, and before his demotion, Worley couldn't even get his ERA to drop under 7.00.
He was sent down to Triple A Rochester to work on the control scouts were wondering about back in 2008.
In Spring Training this season, Worley picked up where he left off, giving up 22 hits and 16 runs in 10.2 innings of work. The Twins had finally seen enough.
Everybody needs pitching depth, so maybe 26-year-old Worley can latch on to somebody's minor league camp and turn things around. Hopefully, his story isn't over.