Vance Worley spent the 2015 season pitching for the Pirates, but was designated for assignment and claimed by the Orioles in late October. Worley entered the 2016 season in contention for the team's fifth starting spot, and though he did make four starts during the season, his main role was as the team's primary long relief option. Though the numbers won't blow anyone away, the 29-year-old journeyman on a $2.3 million salary proved to be of solid value for the O's. In mop-up duty for one of the league's worst starting rotations, Worley was able to post a 3.53 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 56:35 K:BB over a much-needed 86.2 innings. Non-tendered by the Orioles during the winter, Worley was forced to take a minor league contract with the Nationals and will likely compete for a spot as a long reliever during spring training.
Worley signed a minor league contract with the Nationals on Saturday that includes an invitation to spring training, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. The righty was serviceable for Baltimore last season, posting a 3.53 ERA in 35 appearances (four starts), although also posting a weak 5.8 K/9 in the process. The 29-year-old began his career as a started but has primarily worked out of the bullpen in recent years. If he makes the big league roster, he will likely feature as a long reliever, with potential for some spot-starts.
Worley was not tendered a contract by the Orioles and became a free agent Friday. Worley was serviceable in his lone season in Baltimore, with a 3.53 ERA in 35 appearances (four starts), but he sported a low 5.8 K/9 and a 4.87 FIP that suggested he benefitted from some good luck. The 29-year-old began his career as a starter but he's been primarily working out of the bullpen the past couple of seasons, so he could attract some interested parties on the open market looking for a swing man or a longer relief option.
Worley threw two shutout innings in relief during Tuesday's loss to the Red Sox. Worley has made four starts and 23 appearances from the bullpen this season. He pitched in relief of an ineffective Yovani Gallardo, who now has 46 walks in 83.1 innings. Worley has tailed off a bit since drawing a 0.54 ERA for the month of May. Since the All-Star break, Worley has a .160 average against, but he has 10 walks and 11 strikeouts in 23 innings. The Orioles might consider a rotation change, but it is more likely the club is looking for waiver trade candidates before thinking about inserting Worley in the rotation.
Worley will be available out of the Orioles' bullpen Thursday, but he could return to the rotation at some point in the near future, MASN's Roch Kubatko reports. Worley and Ubaldo Jimenez seem to be competing for starts in the No. 5 spot for the Orioles going forward, and Jimenez has been as bad as any starting pitcher in baseball this year, so Worley should get his chance again. He has a 4.50 ERA as a starter and 2.23 ERA as a reliever, so understandably the Orioles would like to keep him in the bullpen if they can find a way to acquire a more competent fifth starter before the trade deadline.
Worley (2-1) gave up two runs on five hits and three walks over seven innings Sunday, striking out three, but came away with a no-decision in a 5-3 win over the Indians. He threw 66 of 102 pitches for strikes in his longest outing of the year, and while Worley wasn't exactly fooling anybody (generating just five swinging strikes), he was in line for the win before Brad Brach gave up an unearned run in the eighth inning to tie the score 3-3. This performance was probably good enough to keep Worley in the rotation for another turn, but if so, he'll face a stiff test Friday in Toronto.