David Phelps had the worst outing of his short career last week against the New York Mets, allowing four runs and recording only one out in the ineffective start.
This was poor timing for Phelps, who has been trying to establish himself as a member of the starting rotation after getting the opportunity to do so following Ivan Nova’s injury.
But Nova was relegated to the bullpen, and then sent down to Triple-A to work on his stuff there, and Phelps was given the ball yet again against the Cleveland Indians.
What followed was a solid start; moreover it showed Phelps’ resilience and his ability to have a rebound performance and continue moving on and trying to get better, something the New York Yankees should be happy to see in their pitcher.
In his seventh start of the season, Phelps pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven, giving up only one hit in the effort. Although he did walk four, he looked in control for the most part, with a curveball that the Indians were swinging through, as well as better command of his fastball.
Though Phelps’ numbers aren’t particularly impressive: he is 4-3 with a 4.15 ERA, and does have 57 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched, second only to C.C. Sabathia.
The righty has been proving his worth to the Yankees since the beginning of the season, coming in as a middle reliever, and even when he wasn’t effective, as he struggled in mid-April, he fought through it to get the three or four innings required of him.
Now as a starter, Phelps is a handy No. 5 who can be relied upon to go at least five or six. He isn’t perfect, and still has many things to work on before his job is secure, like the team-leading 24 walks he has surrendered, but he if he can pitch like he did Tuesday night, it won’t matter.
Unlike Nova, who sometimes seemed to brush wins and losses off his back as if they were nothing, Phelps looks as if he is passionate about his pitches, and beats himself up when he feels he did not perform his best. Coupling that with the ability to put a bad loss behind him and learn from it, as he did in his most recent start, and you have the makings of a very good pitcher.