The Philadelphia Phillies announced Wednesday that right-handed starting pitcher Vance Worley will be shut down for the rest of the 2012 season and will undergo surgery on his pitching elbow sometime in the next seven to ten days.
The announcement comes on the heels of yet another dismal start in what has been a disappointing sophomore campaign for the young hurler. Tuesday night, Worley survived just 4.1 innings against the offensively hapless New York Mets, giving up nine hits and four earned runs. The Phillies went on to lose the game, 9-5, with Worley registering a no decision.
Worley spent time on the disabled list in May with bone chips but insisted that has had nothing to do with his performance of late. His ERA was a deplorable 6.75 in his last 5 starts, and 5.80 in his last 11. Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel maintains that Worley is having trouble locating his pitches. Well, it doesn't take a doctorate in baseball to figure that out when a pitcher is struggling, that's where you look first. You'll find that's a stock answer for Manuel when asked about pitcher's struggles. After all, Manuel is a hitting guru, and getting answers from pitching coach Rich Dubee is like a bartender trying to get tips from the patrons at an open bar corporate happy hour.
Worley performed above and beyond expectations in his rookie season in 2011, going 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA. He started off his sophomore season on the same note, but the bone chips sidelined him and he hasn't been the same since his return. Worley is 6-9 on the season, with a 4.20 ERA.
With Cole Hamels missing Wednesday's start with a gastrointestinal illness, AAA righty Tyler Cloyd will be called up to take the start against New York. You won't find Cloyd on any list of Phillies' top prospects, but he has certainly earned his shot with the big club. Cloyd was just given the Paul Owens Award for the best minor league pitcher in the organization. He is 15-1 this season in AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley, with a combined 2.26 ERA. He's 12-1 at the AAA level.
Depending on his early performances, Cloyd could slide into the rotation for the rest of the season. Assuming Hamels misses just one start, with the Phillies having an off day Thursday, Cloyd could stay in Hamels spot with the Cy Young candidate moving into the spot in the rotation vacated by Worley.
In the long term, Worley's performance and arm problems means that he will not be guaranteed a spot in the rotation next season, which lessens the chances of Cliff Lee getting traded, and adds to the holes (and there are many) that the Phillies need to fill in the offseason if they want to get back into contention in 2013.
Pete Lieber is a freelance writer and a Philadelphia sports enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter at @Lieber14.
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