Miami Marlins: The rebirth of the Vanimal, Vance Worley

MIAMI, FL - MAY 30: Vance Worley
MIAMI, FL - MAY 30: Vance Worley /

Vance Worley struggled to find success for months after being called up to the Miami Marlins. Suddenly, he’s undergone a rebirth.

Call it an edition of “What the heck is going on here”, but Vance Worley is stringing together some impressive starts. The Miami Marlins signed Worley hoping they’d never have to use him. If all had gone according to plan, Worley would be on the farm schooling the young-bloods.

That isn’t the way it played out, and the organization promoted Worley to the top level in May. His first appearance was a start against the Dodgers in which he went four innings, and allowed three earned runs to score. It would be one of his best starts for a long time.

After being an easy target for chiding remarks all season, suddenly Vance Worley is shutting it down when he takes the mound.

In a start against the Washington Nationals on August 2nd, he went seven innings and didn’t allow a run. He allowed only two hits, no walks, all while throwing 92 pitches. It was a startling show of dominance, but was likely an outlier. Everyone expected Worley to regress back to the mean.

Even myself. Following the impressive start, I wrote that in many ways, Worley had done more harm than good by performing so impressively.

On Tuesday, Worley toed the rubber against the Nationals for his second consecutive start. He impressed again. Throwing 88 pitches over six innings, Worley allowed only one run on six hits.

Worley likes to work down in the zone, a pitch that wasn’t being called by home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez. He issued three walks as a result. Key defensive plays and the occasional strikeout helped him get out of trouble most of the evening.

His performance begs the question, is the Vanimal back?

Worley regaining form

For a brief time in his career, right at the beginning, Worley appeared to be headed towards a long, impressive Major League career. In his first full season with the Philadelphia Phillies, he went 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA. He had every tool scouts were looking for; the future was bright.

But the league adjusted, and Worley had a hard time adjusting back. He wouldn’t become an MLB afterthought for several more seasons, but he’d never match his 2011 win total again. Worley is 23-28 with a 4.11 ERA since that season.

But in his last two starts, both against the Washington Nationals, Worley has been vintage Worley. (That’s a good thing, in case you weren’t sure). Doubts continue to abound as to whether or not he can maintain this level of play the rest of the year, but if they can, it’s a huge boost.

Next: Getting to know Miami Marlins pitcher Javy Guerra

The Miami Marlins are trying to claw their way back to .500 on the season. If they are going to do that, they’ll need their starting rotation to step up in a major way. Vance Worley is doing his part over the last two starts.

While we should be hesitant to call Worley “reliable”, he’s certainly seemed better in his last two starts. For all the flak that Miami Marlins fans have given Worley this season, it might be time to apologize if he can piece together a few more of these starts.