October 9 – Happy Birthday David Phelps

Today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant was the surprise Yankee rookie of the year during the 2012 regular season. Born in St. Louis on this date in 1986, Phelps played his college ball at Notre Dame until his junior year, when he was selected by New York in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft. He then pitched well at every rung of the Yankees’ minor league ladder until injuring his shoulder in 2011 while pitching for Triple A Scranton. I confess I had never paid any attention to Phelps until the end of New York’s 2012 spring training season, when it became clear he was heading north with the team. He had out-pitched the Yankees’ more highly touted “”Killer B” duo of Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos and with newcomer Michael Pineda injured and out for the year and the suddenly un-retired Andy Pettitte, not yet ready to go, Phelps got the roster slot. Manager Joe Girardi pitched him exclusively out of the bullpen during the first month of the 2012 season. He caused a bit of a stir by retiring the first 12 big league hitters he faced. When Freddie Garcia struggled early, Phelps took his spot in the rotation. He made two decent starts but was then sent back to the bullpen when Pettitte was finally ready to go in mid May. Then Ivan Nova went on the DL and Phelps was again switched from reliever to starter and remained in the rotation for most of the rest of the season. When all was said and done, Phelps went 4-4 during his rookie year, appearing in 33 games, 11 as a starter.

In the two seasons since, Phelps has had a hard time staying healthy and when he has been, he has pitched unspectacularly for the Yanks both as a starter and out of the bullpen. In fact, if not for an unbelievable epidemic of injuries to members of New York’s rotation in both 2013 and ’14, I doubt Phelps would still be pitching in the Bronx. I continue to hope that those brief instances, when he looks un-hittable on the mound can still turn into longer moments and Phelps will settle into and master the long-relief slot in the Yankee bullpen.

He  shares his October 9th birthday with this former cantankerous Yankee first baseman and this long-ago Bronx Bomber third baseman.

2012 NYY 4 4 .500 3.34 33 11 5 0 0 0 99.2 81 38 37 14 38 96 1.194
2013 NYY 6 5 .545 4.98 22 12 3 0 0 0 86.2 88 50 48 8 35 79 1.419
2014 NYY 5 5 .500 4.38 32 17 5 1 0 1 113.0 115 62 55 13 46 92 1.425
3 Yrs 15 14 .517 4.21 87 40 13 1 0 1 299.1 284 150 140 35 119 267 1.346
162 Game Avg. 8 7 .517 4.21 47 21 7 1 0 1 160 152 80 75 19 64 143 1.346
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/9/2014.

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