The switch to the American League has not been kind to Minnesota Twins pitcher Vance Worley thus far, as he is 1-4 with a 7.15 ERA heading into his next start Friday night against the Boston Red Sox. He did pick up a win in his last start, on May 11 against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing five runs on 11 hits over 5.1 innings as the Twins’ offense scored eight runs.
Worley allowed three runs in the first inning against the Orioles, continuing the struggles he has had early throughout his first eight outings. He has an 11.40 ERA in the first and second innings combined so far this season, along with a .429 opponent’s batting average. Allowing nine runs (seven earned) to the New York Mets and lasting only into the second inning of his third start of the season has inflated both of those numbers, but Worley has not been great a little further into his starts either (6.19 ERA and a .389 opponent’s batting average in innings 4-6).
Worley’s peripheral numbers reflect his struggles, with a K/9 rate (4.8) that is far below his career mark (7.4) in that category. His home run/fly ball rate (13 percent) is also higher than 2012 (10 percent), despite comparable overall fly ball percentages (31 percent this season; 30 percent in 2012). One positive in Worley’s peripherals to this point is a very good ground ball rate (48 percent).
Not missing as many bats has obviously had a negative effect on all of Worley’s numbers, and it’s worth wondering if he is back to 100 percent after elbow surgery caused him to miss the end of last season with the Philadelphia Phillies. But his overall pitch velocity has not been notably lower than it was in previous seasons, so health has to be dropped down the list of reasons for Worley’s struggles until further notice.
Worley faced Boston on the road back on May 6, allowing three runs on nine hits over five innings along with three strikeouts and no walks. Facing the Red Sox at Target Field on Friday night should be to his advantage, but Worley’s ERA is 5.51 in his other three home starts even without that disastrous outing against the Mets.
If Worley continues to struggle, the Twins will have to consider sending him down to Triple-A Rochester. For the first time in a few years the team appears to have some viable reinforcements available for the starting rotation, with Kyle Gibson and Samuel Deduno pitching well for Rochester and Cole De Vries getting closer to returning from a forearm issue. Of course if Worley shuts down the Red Sox any talk of a demotion will be postponed, but Friday night feels like a make-or-break outing for him.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.