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Vance Worley: the Phillies' No. 4 starter in the playoffs?

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE"

It’s kind of hard to believe that Phillies’ rookie Vance Worley notched his tenth win of the season Thursday against the underachieving Cincinnati Reds. Not too shabby, considering 'Vanimal' wasn’t even supposed to be on the Phillies’ roster this season.
 
Although Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and Craig Kimbrel (how the heck is this guy not exhausted yet?!!) most likely have a better chance of taking home the NL Rookie of the Year Award, Worley, with the exception of some rough and tumble outings, has been nothing short of spectacular in 2011. With a 10-1 record and 2.85 ERA, Worley has more than compensated for a mostly ineffective Roy Oswalt in 2011.
 
Which brings me to my next question:vance worley
 
Is there a possibility that Worley could be the team’s fourth starter going into the playoffs this year?

It might be too early to have that much faith in Worley, but it’s not that far fetched when you consider the number of rookie starters who have pitched in the post season for the Phightins over the years (Bob Walk, Marty Bystrom, Charles Hudson, and more recently Kyle Kendrick and J.A. Happ).  

It’s not a bad problem to have. With Michael Stutes up and down since the All-Star break and Brad Lidge  always a question mark, you’ll need a seventh inning pitcher come playoff time (and you’ll burn out Antonio Bastardo  if you use him for two innings every game), but the jury is still out on whether Oswalt can regain his consistency. Worley has gone on record saying that he prefers starting, but he has been effective when pitching out of the bullpen earlier this year.

Oswalt has been up and down since his return from the disabled list, and although he says his back is fine, his fastball still clocks out at 91 mph. Carlos Ruiz has said himself that the Phillies have to develop a whole other game plan if Oswalt’s fastball isn’t working. In the playoffs, you don’t have time to adjust to another game plan let alone your original one just because your starter might not have it on that day.

It’s a tough call. Oswalt has had some of his best months in the Fall. He  is 5-1 with a respectable 3.39 ERA in post-season play, including an NLCS MVP award in 2005. But when you don’t have it, you don’t have it. Do the Phillies want to run the risk of starting a veteran who has playoff experience but has seen better days, or do you go with the inexperienced Vanimal?

Ultimately, I think the ball will go to Oswalt, but it’s something to think about.

In the meantime, Keep On Phightin!

 

Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's.

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