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2010 Player Reviews

Year In Review: Roy Halladay

Posted by Paul Boye, Tue, January 04, 2011 10:00 AM Comments: 22

“Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world?” - Laurence Fishburne in “The Matrix”

It sure felt like a dream when the news first broke of the Phillies’ imminent acquisition of Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays. Dreams of sugarplums and a 2011 rotation highlighted by Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels were kicking off the two-week countdown to Christmas with a lion’s share of bliss. Those dreams, short-lived as they were with the subsequent trading of Lee, were reignited on opening day in Washington.

7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K.

And Doc was off and running on what would become a historic season. A 1.45 ERA through his first seven starts; a perfect game May 29; nine complete games and four shutouts, including one to clinch the division; a playoff no-hitter; a Cy Young Award.

So much can be made of the awesome numbers Halladay posted: 250.2 IP, 219 K, a 2.44 ERA, a 7.3 K:BB ratio, all of which combined to form a legitimately historic season. Since 1901, there have been two pitcher seasons of 250-plus innings, 200-plus strikeouts, 30 or fewer walks with a 2.50 or lower ERA. Roy Halladay has one, Cy Young has the other. The award seems even more fitting, now.

Sure, he had his hiccups. The mess in Boston following his 130-pitch outing against the Pirates, the struggles against the Yankees, Cubs and Rockies. Hey, the guy’s human after all, which is good, because I think using a real robot would be cheating.

Even in the playoffs, Halladay was nearly unstoppable. A no-hitter against Cincinnati, a close loss against Tim Lincecum, and a tough performance with a strained groin muscle.

I could wax poetic about Halladay’s 2010 from now until kingdom come. It was everything any of us could have hoped for and more, piled on top of enormous expectations. Doc made it publicly known that he wanted to come to Philadelphia, left money on the table, crushed most of his competition, won a major award and made more history beyond that.

I can only wonder what the coming years will bring.

PAUL’S GRADE: 10

PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 10 – He came. He saw. He conquered. Roy Halladay was everything Phillies fans dreamed of, and more. Doc put together a historical season and we were lucky enough to have witnessed it here. Thanks, Toronto.

AMANDA ORR’S GRADE: 10 – He deserves a number higher than 10.  Work horse. Complete Games. Shutouts. Perfect Game. No-hitter in the playoffs. Cy Young.  Team MVP.  What more can you ask for?

KIERAN CAROBINE’S GRADE: 10.1 - (Gotta be different).

NICK STASKIN’S GRADE: 11 – Awesome.

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Year in Review: Roy Oswalt

Posted by Michael Baumann, Mon, January 03, 2011 02:36 PM Comments: 4

Ed Wade may yet contribute to a Phillies World Series title. The Houston GM, perhaps best known for an eight-year stint at the helm of a rudderless Phillies team, has followed it up with perhaps an even more perplexing reign of terror in the Purple Drank capital of the world. On July 29, Wade traded Roy Oswalt, the face of his franchise and one of the most consistently excellent pitchers of the past 10 years, to the Phillies for J.A. Happ and two other guys.

I don’t think I ever really appreciated Oswalt’s excellence from afar, but up close, the diminutive righthander was simply stunning. Overall this season, Oswalt was spectacular, posting a 2.76 ERA, a league-leading 1.025 WHIP, and his highest K/9 ratio since his rookie season. Taking into account only his numbers after the trade, Oswalt was even better: 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA and a 0.895 WHIP in 82 2/3 innings (to say nothing of perfect fielding statistics in left field).

Oswalt never did seem to have his best stuff in the playoffs, but pitched well enough to grab a win in Game 2 of the NLCS (though his last two appearances were perhaps the two most hearbreaking losses of the year) and keep the Phillies competitive in his other appearances. Still, despite showing up in Philly under very high expectations, Oswalt managed to quietly exceed them.

Grade: 9.1

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Year in Review: Cole Hamels

Posted by Pat Gallen, Fri, December 31, 2010 10:42 AM Comments: 22

This post was written by PN contributor Jeff Nelson. Welcome Jeff to the Phillies Nation squad.

Headcase. Immature. Soft. Unprepared. He wouldn’t pitch on three-days rest if asked. He’s not a big game pitcher. He sounds like a whiny 7-year old – these were some of the descriptions I heard and read from many Phillies fans following Cole Hamels’ disappointing 2009 season. Heck, some people even wanted him traded after what he said during the ’09 World Series. To the naked eye, Cole just wasn’t right two years ago.

Fast forward a year later and Hamels all the sudden ‘found his game.’ He ‘flicked a switch’ or ‘put his game face on.’ He was more prepared heading in to 2010 or he was cured from the Verducci effect. I’m obviously being a bit facetious with those descriptions. So if determination and perfection weren’t the reasons behind Hamels’ resurgence as an elite pitcher, then what was?

In general, most of Hamels’ ’08 and ’09 rate stats were eerily similar. His K/9, BB/9, HR/9, GB%, FB%, and LD% all barely varied. His BABIP and strand rates on the other hand differed greatly. Cole’s BABIP ballooned from .270 in 2008 to .325 in 2009, by far the highest of his young career. Indeed, Cole was extremely unlucky in 2009 and he didn’t pitch nearly as bad as his 4.32 ERA suggested. Last year, his BABIP regressed right around his career norm, which is slightly lower than league average.

Cole’s strand rate also jumped in the right direction from 72.1% in ’09 to a more than healthy 82.7% in ’10. Part of this is a result from an increase in both his GB% (40.4% to 45.4%) and punchouts (7.81/9IP to 9.10/9IP). The other part stems from the decrease in his BABIP.

While I think it’s safe to say he probably won’t leave runners on base at this clip this year, I still think he can be well above average next year if his rate stats don’t plummet harshly.

Hamels’ 2010 SIERA of 3.19 (good for 10th among starters) did not fluctuate much from his sparkling 3.06ERA. In other words, he really is that good and he is very likely to put up a similar ERA next year. I’m happy to point out that two other Phillies starters also finished ahead of Hamels in SIERA, so he’s in very good company (Halladay with a league leading 2.93 SIERA and Cliff Lee with a 3.03 SIERA).

As impressive as Hamel’s 2010 campaign was, a closer look shows he was absolutely dominant in the second half. Cole made 15 appearances after the all-star break, posting a miniscule 2.23 ERA, a K/BB ratio approaching 5/1, a 9.7 K/9 and a .603 OPS.

The only blemish on Hamels’ 2010 resume was his win/loss record and that’s something you cannot fault him for. Rather, the paltry 3.66 runs/game he received serves as a much better culprit. He deserves much better than his record indicates, but I guess that’s why they play the games.

Jeff’s Grade: 9.3

PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 9.2 – Hamels was sensational and there is still room for improvement. He struggled a bit through the first month but turned it around to have an incredible season. So exciting to watch this “kid” mature into a top-flight, number-one pitcher.

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Year in Review: Kyle Kendrick

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, December 28, 2010 10:22 AM Comments: 6

“They are who we thought they were.” – Dennis Green, Arizona Cardinals Head Coach talking about the Chicago Bears.

Dennis Green’s epic explosion following the Cardinals second half collapse against the Bears in 2007 sheds some light on Kyle Kendrick, somehow. Kendrick is who we thought he was. He is mediocre and not much more. Green would have hit the nail on the head had he been talking about Kendrick.

No one ever believed Kendrick to be anything more than a fifth starter, the role he has filled the past four seasons with the Phillies. His numbers prove as much – Kendrick has a career ERA of 4.69 and a WHIP of 1.425. In 2010, KK put together a 4.73 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP and for the third time in four years won double-digit decisions. Clearly he was aided by the offense due to his fifth day start, however, his numbers are on par with other rotation fillers.

Peeking at Kendrick’s WAR, he is who we think he is – and was last season, too. His -0.3 Wins Over Replacement Player proves his worth as your run-of-the-mill starting pitcher in the majors.

At times, KK flashed some talent, but never over any lengthy period. His best outing of the 2010 campaign was probably his complete game win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 3. Even his finest performance left much to be desired. Over those nine innings, Kendrick allowed 10 hits and two earned runs. That’s about as good as you could ask for out of Kendrick.

In 2011, he’ll once again get an opportunity to be a part of the pitching staff due to his cheap contract and ability to be either a long-man or final starter. That decision is riding on Joe Blanton begin a part of the club.

Kyle Kendrick is what is he and probably always will be. He’s not a hard thrower and works off his control, so if that’s absent, it’s usually a long day. He’s adequate on the hill. He’s Kyle Kendrick.

PAT’S GRADE: 4.4/10

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Year in Review: J.A. Happ

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Thu, December 23, 2010 04:00 PM Comments: 20

J.A. Happ, the young lefty whose ability to get hitters out still has me confused to this day. And yet he was very successful at doing so. Happ has never had overpowering stuff and for his career is only averaging under a strikeout an inning. And yet he still got the job done.

Early into the 2010 season, Happ joined just about every other Phillie on the disabled list. For Happ, it could not have come at a worse time. The lefty was already 1-0 and had not allowed a run in 10.1 innings over two starts. He was well on his way to showing the fans, and himself, that his MLB.com Rooke of the Year Award and his 12-4 record for 2009 was no fluke.

It took nearly half the season for Happ to recover from his injury. Happ didn’t pitch again until July 25th against the Colorado Rockies and lasted 5 innings and gave up three runs.

His next start came in a Houston Astros’ uniform. A move by Ruben Amaro Jr sent Happ to Houston as a major trade piece in acquiring Roy Oswalt for Philadelphia.

Happ only started three games for the Phillies in 2010. His line looked like this: 1-0, 1.76 ERA. 15.1 IP, 12 BB, 9 SO.

For the Astros, Happ pitched adequately enough starting 13 games going 5-4 with a 3.75 ERA striking out 61 in 72 innings. Luckily for Phillies fans, he did wait until he got to Houston to have the worst start of his career. In just his second start as an Astro, Happ lasted only one inning against St. Louis giving up seven runs and throwing 49 pitches.

The Phillies did welcome Happ back to Citizen Bank Park as the opposing pitcher as he faced off against Roy Halladay in late August. Happ came out the victor going 6.1 giving up two runs and five hits.

Happ is still very young in his big league career. I think he is going to be a very good number two or three type pitcher in a rotation. I am still not sure if he possesses any real ace-like qualities. I enjoyed him in Philly, and look forward to seeing pitch again.

It is hard to generate a grade from his short time in a Phillies uniform this past season. He did throw very well but I think he will be most remembered as one of the key pieces that landed Roy Oswalt. So with that in mind…

KIERAN’S GRADE: 9.9/10

PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 9.2/10 – He brought us a few good seasons and although he dealt with some arm issues, pitched well when he was on the mound. This year, he was able to net us Roy Oswalt. When a deal like that comes along you have to make it. Happ shined in Houston, too. High marks.

  • 20 Comments
 

Year In Review: Ryan Madson

Posted by Paul Boye, Wed, December 22, 2010 10:30 AM Comments: 19

Ryan Madson was really, really good in 2010.

There may have been more graceful ways to start this homage to the Mad Dog’s 2010 campaign, but none seem quite as necessarily to-the-point. It’s a reflection on the seven-year pro’s promotion from “pretty good” to “elite,” a sudden transition that we probably could have seen coming.

Still, it was a pleasant surprise. Madson, who had ERAs of 3.05 (twice) and 3.26 in the last three seasons, posted or equaled career-bests in H/9, K/9, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9 and K:BB. A rather ridiculous foot injury – sustained in a moment of frustration, kicking a chair following his appearance in a wild game in San Francisco – forced him to miss a big chunk of the season and limited his total workload to 53 innings, a career-low.

In the nine games Madson appeared in prior to the injury, things hadn’t gone so well. The strikeouts were there, but the hits (and runs) were pouring in. A 7.00 ERA was left to linger for more than two months, and that, apparently, didn’t sit very well with Madson. In the 44 innings he threw after his return from the DL, Madson’s line looked like this:

44.0 IP, 54 K, 10 BB, 1.64 ERA, with a .182/.249/.245 opponents’ batting line.

In those 46 appearances, opponents recorded earned runs on Madson just six times, and only twice in 35 August/September appearances. Paired with a buoyed Brad Lidge late in the season, Madson was almost untouchable. For comparison’s sake, stacked up against the rest of the league, here’s where some of Madson’s numbers rank among relievers with at least 50 IP last season:

  • 14th in K/9 (10.87)
  • 17th-lowest BB/9 (2.21)
  • 8th in K:BB (4.92)
  • 18th in WHIP (1.038)
  • 13th in xFIP (2.89)
  • The 10th most-effective changeup, according to Fangraphs. BaseballAnalytics has opponents hitting just .161/.199/.257 against it in 2010.

He may not be Mariano Rivera or Billy Wagner, but all of those ranks place him in the upper echelon of relievers for 2010. Madson’s contract expires after the 2011 season, and he’ll certainly be due for a raise. His magnificent 2010, though abbreviated, played a huge part in that. Injuries and a sluggish start to the year, paired with a regrettable injury, are the only things weighing this grade down.

GRADE: 8.6/10

MICHAEL BAUMANN’S GRADE: 8.3/10 – Just like missing 4 or more classes in a semester, breaking your foot on a chair in the middle of the season drops you a full letter grade. Outside of that, he was nothing short of spectacular.

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Year In Review: Brad Lidge

Posted by Kieran Carobine, Tue, December 21, 2010 11:00 AM Comments: 13

I remember in April of 2009 taking my Dad to a Phillies game with my brother and I. It was the first time he had ever been to Citizens Bank Park and had not been to a Phillies game since he took us to the Vet in the early 90′s.

As you all know, the Phillies were World (F) Champs. And at this point in April, Brad Lidge had converted 47 straight save opportunities. Well that night Lidge came in with a one run lead and left the game with the Phillies down by three. The streak was over. My Dad swore up and down it was his fault, and that he would never attend another Phillies game. Sadly, he has not.

The 2009 season was a rough one for Lidge (0-8, 7.21, 11 BS) and coming into 2010 there were a lot of questions still to be answered. Fans were wondering how he would bounce back to his ’08 form with his devastating slider.

The season started almost a month late for Lidge, who was placed on the DL at the start of April. In his first four appearances off the disabled list Lidge only allowed only one run and was one for one in save opportunities. Unfortunately his ailing elbow landed him on the 15-day DL once again mid May.

Again looking strong coming off the DL, Lidge collected nine saves in 13 chances although his July ERA was an even 6.00 and 5.57 for the season. But just as the Phillies were making their traditional playoff push in August, it appeared Lidge had righted his own ship and was steering it straight for the postseason. In 13 appearances, he was eight for nine in saves and posted a 0.73 ERA for the month. For August, he allowed onle one run, five hits and struck out 12 batters in 12.1 innings pitched.

With another 13 appearances for September and October, Lidge continued to stay hot as the Phillies took over first place. He was a perfect nine for nine in save opportunities allowing only six hits while striking out 13. His ERA was 0.79 and he finished the season with a 2.96 mark.

Lidge struck out more than twice as many hitter than he walked (52/24), only allowed five home runs and had a WHIP of 1.23 for the season. For a closer, I would have liked to see his walk numbers down but when your slider isn’t working some nights it is hard to get guys to chase.

Personally, I have always thought a closer should not factor into the wins or losses column and Lidge did great in this sense going 1-1. It was a huge turn around from his 0-8 in 2009. For 2010 he was 27 for 32 in save chances. For those scribbling numbers at home, that is six fewer blown saves than in 2009.

All in all, it was a great regular season for the Phillies closer. He put up some pretty impressive numbers in spite of two trips to the disabled list. He did endure his lowest inning workload since 2002, and I think this may have helped him. In ’08 he appeared in 72 games and then 67 in ’09. This is when we really started seeing the elbow issues come to the forefront. He appeared in 50 games for 2010 and opponents were only hitting .196 off him.

KIERAN’S GRADE: 8.6/10

PAT GALLEN’S GRADE: 7.9/10 – Maybe I’m picking nits here – and yes, Lidge had a great season – but I could never feel fully 100% fine when he came into the game. His velocity was down greatly and his workload was down, too. He gave it all he had and that slider might be the best in the game, so I do applaud Lidge for a very good season. It just wasn’t great.

MICHAEL BAUMANN’S GRADE: 7.5/10 – In terms of numbers, Lidge in 2010 was closer to 2008 than 2009. But unlike 2008, when you didn’t even have to watch the 9th inning of Phillies games, I still felt myself getting that rising vomit feeling in my chest whenever he came into a close game. Couldn’t pitch worth a damn with men on base, but on the whole, not bad.

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Year in Review: Chad Durbin

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sun, December 19, 2010 04:40 PM Comments: 12

Chad Durbin came to the Phillies as a mediocre swingman who’d spent his entire career in AL Central purgatory. Since then, he’s been (alternately) the bread upon which a World Series title sandwich was built, and a man for whom his fielders didn’t need to show up–whoever he faced either walked or hit a home run.

I once wrote of J.A. Happ that I had no idea how he was effective–he didn’t throw particularly hard or have earth-shattering breaking stuff. But he was. Chad Durbin is much the same. He throws five pitches, all of which (according to FanGraphs) were within 3 1/2 runs of league average in 2010.

In 2008, that mediocre stuff helped Durbin put in an outstanding season in middle relief: 87 innings pitched and a 2.87 ERA. In 2009, Durbin’s control deserted him to the tune of more than six walks per nine IP and a 4.39 ERA that wasn’t half as bad as his performance warranted. For all the talk of which Jimmy Rollins or which Cole Hamels would show up in 2010, Durbin had posted a similar Jekyll-and-Hyde run.

In 2010, Durbin more or less split the difference: a career high K/9 ratio for a full season, a walk rate of 3.5 BB/9, which was more or less in line with his 2008 numbers, and a 3.80 ERA. However, Durbin’s xFIP, which takes into account the various random batted ball and fielding factors, was a career low, even lower than his 2008 mark. With injuries and the constant instability of Brad Lidge marking the back end of the Phillies’ rotation, Durbin, along with Jose Contreras, helped stabilize the middle innings.

Grade: 7.5/10–Durbin wasn’t as lucky as he was in 2008, and battled injuries in midseason, but his 2010 numbers were pretty much what you’d ask for from a middle reliever.

Pat Gallen’s Grade: 7.3/10 — Durbin is always solid and was again in 2010, although the injury knocked him out for a long stretch. He may not be back next year but he’s always been a class act and given it his all on the mound.

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Year in Review: Jose Contreras

Posted by Michael Baumann, Thu, December 16, 2010 11:48 AM Comments: 50

When the Phillies signed Contreras last winter, it was not the most newsworthy signing of a Cuban defector blessed with a thunderbolt arm, but it may have turned out to be the most consequential. Contreras, who turned 39 last week, is the latest in a series of starting pitchers the Phillies have successfully converted to relief stalwarts, including Chad Durbin, Brett Myers, and Chan Ho Park.

Contreras had last been a top-line starting pitcher in 2006, when he went 13-9 for the White Sox. With his fastball velocity in free fall, he caught on with Colorado in late 2009, and was excellent in seven appearances, five from the bullpen. Those 17 innings were enough to convince the Phillies to plug Contreras into Park’s old spot in middle relief.

Contreras, despite originally stating a desire to start, took to his new role in middle relief with gusto. Contreras’ fastball averaged 94 mph in 2010, up 3.5 mph from 2008. With his velocity back, Contreras was able to work in hard breaking stuff to great effect, including a high-80s slider that was worth 8 runs above the league average. This translated to better than a strikeout an inning and, despite a midsummer hiccough (caused in part by some bad luck with strand rates and BABIP), the Big Truck finished second among Phillies relievers in innings pitched, third in ERA, and third in strikeouts.

With so much of the Phillies’ payroll tied up in a few superstar players, the key to building a successful team is filling in the gaps on the cheap, and this Big Truck certainly delivered.

Grade: 7.8/10–Contreras was an dependable, if not spectacular reliever all season long and earned his contract extension. He wasn’t Mariano Rivera, but it’s hard to go far in baseball without decent middle relief.

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Year in Review: The Bullpen

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, December 08, 2010 12:41 PM Comments: 13

Even though the hot stove is burning down in Florida, we’re still continuing our Year in Review. Only a few left as we get to the end of the pitching staff. Up next are Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras.

The group we’ll take a look at today was little used and not a huge part of the equation for 2010. Here are the bullpen guys that found their way onto the major league roster at some point this year. Their grades are a combination of the minors and majors.

SCOTT MATHIESON

-For years Scott Mathieson has been on the radar as an up-and-coming arm that could potential pay dividends in the back of the bullpen. That hasn’t happened yet, but Mathieson did get his feet wet in the major leagues again after missing time following his second Tommy John surgery.

In two appearances, the flamethrower did little to prove his worth and was sent back down to the minors where he flourished all season. In those two games with the Phillies, he gave up three runs and five hits over 1 2/3 innings. Clearly not a sample size worth going nuts over. Pitching for Triple-A, Mathieson saved 26 games and appeared in 54 of them, posting a 2.80 ERA and 1.13 WHIP.

He’ll certainly have a shot to translate those minor league numbers to the majors starting in February during Spring Training. Many hope he can become a staple in this bullpen as he not only has the talent, but a back-story that people can root for.

GRADE: 7.3/10 – Looked great in LV but in a short stint with the big boys failed to take the next step. There’s still time for him.

MIKE ZAGURSKI

-A run per game isn’t going to turn heads, but that’s what lefty Mike Zagurski did when he arrived to the Phillies in 2010. In eight games he gave up eight runs over seven innings. He was another one who looked overmatched at the highest level, however, there is still room for him to evolve into a nice left-handed reliever in the majors. The question is, will he get that opportunity here?

In the minors, Zagurski was solid over 52 1/3 innings coming away with a 3.26 ERA. He struck out 71 while walking 27, a decent ratio for a lefty.

Zagurski will also get the chance to prove he belongs in Philadelphia and not in the minors for another season. Still, he had a shot of turning some heads in his short stint in ’10 and failed to wow anyone.

GRADE: 5.9/10 – Last season was great for club depth, but not sure if he fits into the plans of the major league team.

ANDREW CARPENTER

Carpenter is seen as a back-of-the-rotation type of arm and was decent as such in Lehigh Valley In his one major league appearance this year, he was used in mop-up duty in a blowout against the Cardinals. His line: three innings, five hits, three runs, no walks, two strikeouts. Nothing special about it, really. Carpenter is still relatively young at 25, so the Phillies will keep him in the farm system and hope he pans out in some way, shape, or form. For next year, it looks like another trip to Lehigh Valley with a crowded rotation in Philly.

GRADE: 5.1/10 – Was a middle of the road guy in LV and will continue to be until he can prove he can retire major league hitters.

NATE ROBERTSON

Didn’t forget about this guy, did you? How could you? One of his two appearances was so atrocious Robertson failed to find another job in baseball after it. The Phillies added him after he was let go by Florida for some added depth in the organization.

On September 8, Robertson was utilized in the middle of a pennant chase and completely flopped, allowing six runs and four hits in just two-thirds of an inning. The Phillies ended up winning the game over the Marlins but Robertson was never heard from again.

GRADE: 0/10 – Robertson did little in LV or PHI and had one game that was so terrible it’s unforgettable. That shouldn’t happen in one inning of major league work.

VANCE WORLEY

He too had just a taste of the major leagues in 2010, yet made the most of it. Unlike some of the others, Worley was actually quite good. He saw the light of day five times this year, two starts, and kept his ERA low. Try 1.38 low with a WHIP below one. Again, a small sample size, but a head-turning line over those five games.

Worley was awesome in his two starts, one of which came in the middle of the NL East chase. On September 6 in Game One of a doubleheader, Worley held the Marlins to two runs over five innings and with those trademark glasses became an instant fan favorite.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about Worley as we get closer to Spring Training. He’s very much in the running for the fifth starter spot next season.

GRADE: 8/10 – Between his excellent stats in both Double-A and Triple-A, Worley receives high marks for making a great leap in 2010.

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