— By Dan Cook, WCCO Radio
On Wednesday, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire confirmed what had long been suspected by Twins pundits, namely that off-season trade acquisition, Vance Worley, would get the start on Opening Day in Minnesota. Worley was part of the package of players the Twins received on December 6, 2012, in return for outfielder Ben Revere.
The 25-year-old California native will be his team’s Opening Day starter for the first time in his career. Last season – his first full year in the majors – he started the Phillies third game of the season (on the road) and their fifth game at Citizens Bank Park, their home field.
Worley’s the owner of a career 3.50 ERA, a 2.45 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and has surrendered 23 home runs in his 272 and 2/3 Major League innings pitched. On the surface, his 2012 numbers don’t inspire much confidence (a 4.20 ERA, a 95 ERA+, and a 1.511 WHIP), but dig a little deeper and there are extenuating circumstances.
Elbow inflammation landed the right-hander on the disabled list on May 16, 2012, and eventually ended his season in August so he could have bone chips surgically removed.
And if that’s not explanation enough, he had a moderately high BAbip of .351, meaning that an inordinate number of balls put into play turned into hits rather than outs.
That being said, there’s no guarantee Worley will return to his 2011 form (3.01 ERA, 1.230 WHIP & 119 K’s) when he finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. And while we should never put too much stock in Spring Training numbers, Worely’s haven’t been what you’d call “reassuring”.
The pitcher who will oppose him for Monday’s opener? Just a gentleman who owns a Rookie of the Year award, a Cy Young award (he’s been in the top 5 in voting 3 times) and a MVP award… one Justin Verlander of the Tigers.
But the beauty of baseball is that unanticipated outcomes can and do occur. And when you throw in forecasted temps in the mid-30s and winds from 15-20 mph, who knows what fluky things will happen?
First pitch Monday afternoon is scheduled for 3:10 p.m. Bring your parkas and blankets and check out “the Vanimal” (@Vanimal_49 on Twitter) as the Twins begin the 2013 campaign.