Is it time to give Phelps a chance?

In some ways, this isn’t a huge problem for the 2012 Yankees. Yes, you’d much prefer to have Garcia sporting the sub-4.00 ERA he pitched to in 2011, but he’s the team’s fifth starter at the moment, and with Andy Pettitte and (hopefully) Michael Pineda joining the active roster at some point, the Yankees aren’t likely to have to endure Garcia for long.

On the other hand, David Phelps has been pitching well in long relief in his first taste of the big leagues. Though it’s still a small sample, Phelps has pitched 12.1 innings so far (compared to 12.0 for Garcia), allowing four earned runs with 11 strikeouts to 3 walks in that span. Phelps won the long relief role thanks to a strong Spring Training performance and, so far, he’s proven to be  pretty reliable weapon when the Yankees need to turn to the bullpen early. In fact, yesterday was the second time Phelps has pitched over two innings in relief of Garcia already this year, and the Yankees wound up winning both of those games. Considering the visible difference between the quality of the two’s performance, it’s hardly surprising that some fans are already wondering if the Yankees shouldn’t let Phelps take Garcia’s place in the rotation as they wait for the return of Andy Pettitte sometime in early May (knock on wood).

First of all, let me say that I don’t think the Yankees will do this, or even give it serious thought for that matter. They’ve stated numerous times how much they like Garcia as a picher and as a clubhouse guy, they went out of their way to get him re-signed about as early as they possibly could have in the offseason, and, more generally, they just aren’t prone to the sort of quick change this move would represent. Indeed, even though the Yankees could use the scheduled off day this coming Thursday to skip Garcia’s start in the next turn through the rotation, pitching coach Larry Rothschild yesterday indicated to reporters that they probably wouldn’t do that.

That said, if it were my decision I’d very seriously consider giving Phelps a chance to show what he’s capable of doing right now as a major league starter. Of course, I’m not much of a believer in Garcia in the first place, and I pointed out over the offseason how the underlying components to his 2011 season heavily suggested that he was do for regression this year. Even if that weren’t the case, however, with Pettitte set to return soon, Garcia isn’t long for the rotation anyway. Between the limited upside and commitment to Garcia, there’s no real reason to think beyond the short term where Garcia is concerned, so if Phelps is likely to give you better outings, you might as well just let him take the starts. Heck, with Phil Hughes scuffling as well, Phelps may emerge as the team’s early season fourth starter and may function as a rotation option even after Pettitte debuts.

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

8 thoughts on “Is it time to give Phelps a chance?

  1. Jacques

    Brien, On 4th paragraph, second sentence did you means phelps pitched 12.1 innings and not Hughes?

    But otherwise, I agree. Phelps pitched well last two seasons and there are no reason to think he'll falter

  2. Matt

    I think they should go to phelps , how much longer can they let this continue . I feel like I'm watching AJ pitch when I watch Freddy this year… It hurts my stomach watching him out there laboring every inning . I would rather they randomly draw a starter from the minors every fifth game then watch a wounded duck on the mound . Freddy must go !

  3. jay_robertson

    The sad part is, he was getting knocked around by teams he should have handled – the Os and the Twins. If he was 2-1 at this point, everyone would be happy. But he has yet to look anywhere near as good as he did in Spring Training.

    I'm sure he'll get another shot – but IF Hughes and Garcia are both subpar in their next starts, it would be hard not to start Phelps. Especially, since Petite and Pineda are supposed to be on the roster by July – the team wouldn't have to worry about an innings limit with Phelps. Just go with him til the "big boys" show up.

  4. roadrider

    I'm not sure why this is even a question. OK, I forgot that Garcia has some kind of magic clubhouse pixie dust that he sprinkles in the clubhouse that more than balances out the fact that he's throwing beach balls up there that are turning virtually every hitter into a Pujols, Cabrera or Kemp. That is, when he's not throwing a wild pitch.

    Garcia is done – stick a fork in him. Even if he were at his best is he really capable of doing anything that Phelps or even Warren or DJ Mitchell couldn't? At some point you need to give young guys, who may have a future with the organization, a chance. Garcia is simply not good enough and has no promise of being good enough to displace anyone from the rotation. He's not Andy Pettitte and never was as good as that in his best years. You can make that kind of trade off for Andy but Sweaty Freddie doesn't qualify.

  5. steve

    YES YES YES. Let the kid start.

  6. The Comedian

    Freddy Krueger Garcia looks seriously off.He leaning way back and lobbing the ball at a whopping 84 mph. He doesn't have anything in the tank,it's done.

  7. math

    this was written after the news about Pineda came out right? People do know the Yanks will be VERY lucky to get him back before the All Star break, correct?

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