Let the countdown to opening day begin! With only five days until the Minnesota Twins open up the season at home against the Detroit Tigers, manager Ron Gardenhire has named Vance Worley the opening day starter. This news was expected for the past couple of weeks based on the available options the Twins had to choose from to start their first game against the Tigers and likely, Justin Verlander.
It all started before spring training even began when Scott Diamond had elbow surgery to remove a bone chip from his throwing elbow. Diamond was expected to take the ball on opening day for the Twins, but this news has cost him the opportunity to start the first game and it will likely result in Diamond starting the season on the disabled list.
The next option was thought to be Samuel Deduno after his strong performance for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Unfortunately for Deduno and the Twins, Deduno suffered a groin injury while pitching during the championship game and as a result, he was optioned to Triple-A to start the season.
That leaves the Twins with really only one legitimate option to start on opening day: Brad Radke. I’m just kidding; but really, the only legitimate option the Twins have to start on opening day is Worley. For the record, Radke could probably still do better than most of the pitchers the Twins are currently trotting out there. I’d wager he could give them five strong innings come opening day if the Twins gave him enough of a warning to start dusting off the old wing, but I digress.
Worley struggled to end the spring, limping to finishing totals of a 0-1 record with a 5.73 ERA over 22 innings pitched in six games. I discussed during one of my previous articles that Worley needs to master a third pitch to complement his cut-fastball and sinker. Without that third pitch, teams are able to hit Worley hard the second or third time they see him because they can key on those two pitches. It looks like the development of that third pitch is still a work in progress and so is Worley’s adjustment to the American League.
Cut Worley a little slack because he is coming off elbow surgery and is still trying to regain his form, but the time to work out those kinks was in spring training. Now that the regular season is almost upon us, Worley is going to need to make his own adjustments to be effective in the rotation for the Twins. The Twins need Worley to take charge at the top of the rotation while Diamond is out, but also when he comes back. The team is in dire need of quality pitching and their most talented pitchers are currently in their minor league system because they aren’t ready to pitch at the big leagues yet.
This is why Worley must take charge of this rotation because if he doesn’t, who else will? He stands as their most talented pitcher in their rotation and the pitcher with the most proven success at the big leagues. The time is now to turn the corner for Worley and it all will start on opening day against the Tigers.