Hidden Vigorish

Detailed Analysis of The Pittsburgh Pirates

Reconstructing the Vanimal

Back in March I wrote a post about how additional work with special pitching instructor Jim Benedict in extended spring training benefitted several veteran pitchers that had bounce back years with the Pirates. Both A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano had additional time to work out some mechanical issues with their deliveries while rehabbing injuries not related to their throwing arms. I wondered if extended spring training might be the key to get Edinson Volquez back on track. We will never know as the Pirates could not find a way to hold Volquez back in extended spring training. Volquez joined the rotation immediately and the results have been mixed at best. But that doesn’t mean that Jim Benedict didn’t have a special project to work with in extended spring training this season. The Pirates acquired Vance Worley late in spring training and sent kept him in Bradenton the entire month of April to work with Jim Benedict.
Vance Worley has fallen on hard times in recent years. After a promising to start to his career in Philadelphia, the “Vanimal” as he called, fell apart after being dealt to the Twins prior to the 2013 season. Worley was hit hard in 2013, yielding 82 hits in just 48.2 innings. The Twins gave up on him and sent him to the Pirates this spring. The Pirates took the slow approach with Worley. Instead of joining the Indianapolis rotation immediately he stayed in extended spring training to get stretched out and work on his mechanics with Jim Benedict. He finally made his debut on May 6th. He has now made three starts at AAA, and from the looks of it Jim Benedict may have worked his magic again. Worley has pitched to a 2.84 ERA in 19 innings this year with Indianapolis, but the stat that stands out the most is 0 walks. It is too early to say whether or not Vance Worley has turned the corner, or if he will ever contribute to the Pirates’ pitching staff, but wouldn’t it be ironic if the guy that went to extended spring training replaces the guy that probably should have gone to extended spring training?


  1. Although his ERA has jumped up a bit since you last posted this, I think Worley’s biggest issue is the Pirates are flush with some good pitching talent in AAA, even with Taillon being out (which is really too bad). For what little it took to get him, the Vanimal is a good gamble. Also if he improves, maybe he’ll be traded?

    1. I don’t see the pitching talent at AAA being all that special. They aren’t bad, and they provide some depth, but there are no difference making arms at Indy. Cumpton is already here. Locke has major league talent. Maybe Sadler too. But at best they are back end rotation guys. Throw Worley in amongst that group and you have three to choose from when the next opening shakes loose. Which ever is pitching the best at the time should get the call.

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