Vance Worley: a hard look at a steep decline

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Apr 27, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Cervelli (29) and Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Worley (46) meet at the mound during the fifth inning against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

It has been well documented that the Pittsburgh Pirates rely heavily on the two-seam fastball to produce the ground-outs that opposing teams hit perfectly into their shifts. It should come as no surprise that in 2014 Worley threw the two-seamer at 40.2% clip. Despite throwing it more frequently (49.2%), the effectiveness of that pitch has dropped off of a cliff in 2015.

Last year, Worley’s two-seamers found the strike zone 23.2% of the time. In 2015, the pitch reaches the zone at a 14.6% clip. The drop is startling, even while considering that the point of a two seam fastball is not always to end in a called strike but rather to induce bad contact. The pitch relied upon to induce ground balls is not doing that either, with Worley’s GB% dropping from 55.30% to 43.50%. For a pitcher such as Worley who does not have the classic fastball out-pitch, this has been absolutely deadly.

Next, let’s look at Worley’s struggles when the Bucs don’t give him runs to work with.

Next: Worley clearly needs a cushion