It is always hard to gauge how a player will do in the regular season solely based off of their performance in Spring Training. Teams and players obviously want to put up impressive numbers in the preseason, but that does not necessarily mean it will translate over to when the games actually matter.
Numbers can be so easily skewed, both negatively and positively, in the early going of the preseason as hitters only get one or two at-bats a game and pitchers throw for only two or three innings.
However, as the regular season draws closer, the workload begins to increase for the players, which makes it so they have to perform in similar, real-game situations.
That workload was increased for New York Yankees pitcher David Phelps today when he took the hill against the Tampa Bay Rays. Phelps is in a heated battle with Michael Pineda for the last spot in New York’s rotation and saw his innings limit increase from three to five. This is a huge step for a pitcher in Spring Training as five innings is the requirement for a starter to register a win and is seen as the minimal a starting pitcher should go for his team during the regular season.
Phelps was able to rise up to this first challenge of spring as he allowed only three hits, no walks and no runs over five shutdown innings of work. This was a huge improvement from his last start in which he allowed twice the amount of base runners (six) in almost half the innings (2.2).
This was undoubtedly a huge step for Phelps as he makes his push for the fifth spot in the Yankees’ rotation. The biggest concern with Phelps’ last start was if he gave up that many base runners in such a short start, then what would he do when he had to go five innings? Apparently, the answer to that was he was able to focus in and pitch better.
The question of who will win the last spot in New York’s rotation is far from being answered, but this start absolutely helped Phelps’ case moving forward.