When division leaders clash on Thursday night in Philadelphia, youth will reign supreme on the mound. Both the Arizona Diamondbacks and Philadelphia Phillies are showcasing their young guns, with Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy (15-3, 3.12) facing off against Vance Worley (8-1, 2.85).
Kennedy has had a magical season for Arizona, currently holding the best win percentage in the major leagues at .833. He has earned a victory in his last seven starts, including two wins over playoff contenders San Francisco and Milwaukee.
Worley has been a surprise for the Phillies, taking over a rotation spot after Joe Blanton went down with an elbow injury in mid-May. Drafted in the third round of the 2008 draft out of Long Beach State, Worley features a 92-mph fastball and a quality slider.
While Worley has been given a lot of credit in his rookie season, he does have some blemishes: his strikeout-to-walk ratio is only 2.3, meaning that he can get into a lot of trouble with his command at times. He also relies heavily on his four-seam fastball while shying away from his curveball and change-up.
Kennedy's pitch selection is slightly more robust, utilizing both a two-seam and a four-seam fastball with great success. His change-up averages 10 mph less than his fastball, allowing him to effectively manage a game despite not having a lot of speed on his heater (around 90 mph).
Impressively, Kennedy has struck out 142 while only walking 45, earning himself a 3.15 K/BB ratio. In his last seven starts (all wins), Kennedy has only walked 13 batters.
It's difficult to tell who will come out on top tonight in Philadelphia. Will the Diamondbacks be able to overcome the homefield advantage and the excellent Phillies lineup, or will Worley continue to surprise against the NL West division leaders?
Find out more about the D-backs at AZ Snake Pit.