Vance Worley Named Twins Opening Day Starter

Elsa

As the only viable option remaining, new Twins pitcher Vance Worley will start against Justin Verlander on April 1st.

With Scott Diamond starting the year on the disabled list, it was only a matter of time before Vance Worley was pegged as the runner-up. He was a fairly high-profile acquisition, coming back from Philadelphia as part of the return for Ben Revere, and looking down the rest of our candidates there wasn't anyone better.

  • Kevin Correia: If you're starting Corriea on Opening Day, you may as well just admit to a 55-win season before April.
  • Mike Pelfrey: It's tough to give an Opening Day start to a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher who is fresh off of Tommy John surgery and who may not pitch like himself until July or August.
  • Liam Hendriks: Barely a back-end guy for the rotation at this point in his career, although he could still wind up a #4.
  • Cole De Vries: To be fair he was the best Twins pitcher not named Diamond last season. But entering camp he was a bit of an afterthought for the rotation. Not Opening Day material.
  • Kyle Gibson: How amazing would this have been, if he'd made the roster? Maybe a bit of a slap in the face to all of the veterans on the roster, but we all know he's the most talented guy on this list.
  • Samuel Deduno: After the WBC could he have been given the nod? No. But he probably would have made the rotation had he been healthy.
Worley is an interesting pitcher. His swinging strike rates are likely to dip this season which will reduce his strikeout capabilities, which already dipped below average in 2012 (striking out 18.1% of batters against a league average rate of 19.8%) after being slightly above average in 2011 (21.5% vs 18.6%), but if he can put together another 2-WAR season then the Twins would have to consider it a good season.

In the list above I spoke about how pitchers profiled in terms of middle-of-the-rotation or how a pitcher could be a #3 or #4, and to be honest Worley probably tops out in that range as well (perhaps closer to a solid #3 when things go well). What separates him from the other potential Opening Day pitchers, though, is not just his health but also his experience as well as his more than solid career numbers to date.

Year Age Tm W L ERA G GS IP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9
2010 22 PHI 1 1 1.38 5 2 13.0 0.923 5.5 0.7 2.8 8.3
2011 23 PHI 11 3 3.01 25 21 131.2 1.230 7.9 0.7 3.1 8.1
2012 24 PHI 6 9 4.20 23 23 133.0 1.511 10.4 0.8 3.2 7.2
3 Yrs 18 13 3.50 53 46 277.2 1.351 9.0 0.7 3.1 7.7
162 Game Avg. 12 9 3.50 36 32 191 1.351 9.0 0.7 3.1 7.7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 3/28/2013.


Picking an Opening Day starter for a team that is likely to finish with somewhere between 65 and 75 wins is a bit academic. It's tradition, it's kind of fun to talk about, but the best part will be watching to see if Worley can manage to out-duel Justin Verlander on April 1st.

Just for fun, here is a list of Twins starters on Opening Day for the last 20 years. Enjoy!

  • 2012: Carl Pavano
  • 2011: Carl Pavano
  • 2010: Scott Baker
  • 2009: Francisco Liriano
  • 2008: Livan Hernandez
  • 2007: Johan Santana
  • 2006: Johan Santana
  • 2005: Brad Radke
  • 2004: Brad Radke
  • 2003: Brad Radke
  • 2002: Brad Radke
  • 2001: Brad Radke
  • 2000: Brad Radke
  • 1999: Brad Radke
  • 1998: Bob Tewksbury
  • 1997: Brad Radke
  • 1996: Brad Radke
  • 1995: Scott Erickson
  • 1994: Kevin Tapani
  • 1993: Kevin Tapani
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