After being roughed up in his Spring Training debut, David Phelps bounced back in his next appearance and delivered a strong outing to make things more difficult for Joe Girardi and the rest of the New York Yankees‘ staff.
The young Michael Pineda has been the focus out of the contending pitchers for the No. 5 spot, but Phelps certainly made his case for the job after going five innings while giving up just one hit, three strikeouts and no runs against the Tampa Bay Rays. Pineda also put together a stellar performance in his first outing of the spring by going for two scoreless innings with four Ks. Not to mention, he sent the Triple Crown-winning Miguel Cabrera back to the dugout after getting him to swing and miss twice in an at-bat that ended with a Pineda K.
The Yankees should be pumped about Pineda’s inspiring performance, but the job is still Phelps’ to lose in my opinion. Pineda’s game was a very small sample and Phelps has more real game experience. However, Phelps is now the latest Yankee to be involved in trade rumors.
The Seattle Mariners have expressed interest in the 27-year-old righty and are willing to make a move before the season begins. Having already lost Robinson Cano to the team from the far northwest, I’m sure the Yankees are reluctant to allow another valuable piece to go play for Seattle. But if the Yankees can receive a durable infielder in return, there is definitely a possibility.
Majority of fans, and even coaches, want Pineda to start the season as the fifth guy. He’s exciting, young and long-awaited. However, Pineda hasn’t thrown a pitch in MLB since 2011 and probably needs more time in the minors no matter how great of a spring he has. If Phelps has an awful spring, then maybe the decision to trade, or simply pick Pineda, Vidal Nuno or Adam Warren over him, will be easier. But as long as Phelps is shutting teams out in the month of March, look for him to be the leading candidate for the fifth spot.