When the five guys who make up a major league starting rotation are featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated before the season, it's a little daunting for a young starting pitcher to have visions of breaking into that fivesome. It's also almost unthinkable that when said pitcher does get his chance that management might think twice before taking him out of said star-studded rotation.
But that's what 23-year-old right-hander Vance Worley has accomplished in the last week. Filling in for injured starter Joe Blanton, Worley improved to 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in the Phillies' 7-4 win over the Washington Nationals on Wednesday. Worley has allowed just one run in 12 innings of his two starts, and that didn't come until just before he recorded his final out in the sixth inning of Wednesday's win.
"I've always liked being the guy who likes to go out there and compete," Worley said. "If you throw someone out there, a bigger name guy, I always like going against them. That's always been my thing growing up as a kid."
Adam LaRoche's two-out, RBI double in the sixth snapped a 21-inning scoreless streak for Worley, dating to September. He is 2-1 with a 1.23 ERA in four career starts and has a pristine 1.08 ERA in seven big-league games.
But he also doesn't appear to have an obvious spot on the roster. Blanton is expected to return early next week, joining a rotation with two Cy Young award winners (Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee) and two postseason MVPs (Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt).
"I try not to look at anything," Worley said of whether he thinks about where he might fit. "All I can do is take care of myself and what I'm doing right now, and everything else is up to the guys upstairs."
Said manager Charlie Manuel: "We have a five-man rotation. At the same time, if you do the best you can, you can force our hand. To me, that's what it's all about. Anytime you do good and perform, that means everything. Competition never hurt nobody. It helps us get better."
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