PHILADELPHIA — Attempting to chase down a National League wild-card spot, the Miami Marlins are running out of room for many more letdowns.
They will need to get back on track Thursday afternoon when they close out a four-game series against the NL East basement-dwelling Phillies (46-79). Philadelphia would force a series tie with a win.
Miami (62-63) swept a series-opening doubleheader on Tuesday before the Phillies took one back Wednesday night with an 8-0 win.
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As Miami’s Thursday afternoon starter, Vance Worley will try to re-establish himself as a full-time rotation member. He returns to a ballpark where he has pitched more games than any other.
The Marlins right-hander spent his first three major league seasons (2010-12) with the Phillies, who drafted him in the 20th round in 2005. He was traded to the Twins in late 2012, spending 2013 with Minnesota, 2014-15 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2016 with the Baltimore Orioles and now returning to the NL East.
Worley signed last offseason with the Marlins on a minor league deal, getting a May call-up first as a starter before moving to the bullpen.
Worley made 10 appearances as a reliever between May 30 and July 25. He landed another chance in the rotation after Tom Koehler’s late-July demotion to Triple-A, and has gone 2-1 with a 3.08 ERA in five starts since then.
Overall, Worley is 2-3 with a 4.82 ERA for the season.
“It’s been a wild ride, from spring training to going to the minor leagues to coming back up and trying to figure out the major league ball again,” he told MASN. “Now I finally got it figured out, and I’m pitching the way I have in the rest of my career. It was just a matter of time before things equaled out.”
Though Worley started in 46 of his 53 games in a Phillies uniform and 73 of his first 81 major league appearances overall, he has become more of a bullpen option in the last three seasons. Of his past 75 outings, 54 have been as a reliever.
For his career, Worley is 31-30 with a 3.97 ERA as a starter and 4-3 with a 3.27 ERA as a reliever.
In four career appearances (two starts) against his first club, Worley is 1-1 with a 4.85 ERA. His two relief outings against the Phillies came earlier this season when he threw a scoreless ninth inning of a 7-2 win in May and then gave up three runs in three innings of a 10-3 loss in July.
This will be Worley’s 29th career start at Citizens Bank Park and 32nd appearance overall in a park where he is 10-8 with a 3.71 ERA. He has only appeared there twice as a visitor, both with the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA between 2014 and 2015.
He will be facing Phillies right-hander Jake Thompson, who will be called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make his third big-league start of the season and the 13th of his two-year career.
Thompson, who is 1-1 with a 4.20 ERA for Philadelphia this year, has pitched five innings in both of his starts. He shut out the Atlanta Braves over five innings on July 28 before giving up seven runs (two earned) and three home runs in five innings during a 7-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 2.
“It’s part of the process,” Thompson said after the shelling. “You take your bumps and bruises along the way. You have to grow.
“You can’t get scared and back down from it. I’m certainly not. I feel that eventually I’m going to be a successful major league pitcher. It was just one of those nights.”
The Thursday start will be Thompson’s first-ever appearance against the Marlins.