The Yankees have been lucky enough to see some great pitching this spring. Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia have given up just 1 run total, while Ivan Nova has had a couple of brilliant appearances. Michael Pineda came out to pitch two clean innings on Friday, Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren have equally impressed, but today was David Phelps‘ time to shine. After giving up a double to Matt Joyce with 1 out in the 1st inning, Phelps proceed to take care of the next 9 batters quickly. He pitched so efficiently that he went 5.0 innings today, giving up just 3 hits and earning a strike out against a handful of Rays regulars.
Phelps’ performance might not necessarily earn him a spot in the Yankees’ rotation, not with Pineda showing that he’s healthy, but it could help him beat out other starters if an injury happens. Likewise, Phelps could be playing for a rotation spot with another team, as we learned last week that at least the Mariners have been scouting the right-handed pitcher. Regardless, today’s performance will make both Joe Girardi‘s and Brian Cashman’s decision process a little more difficult.
Dellin Betances also got into this game, and yet again pitched efficiently as he earned 1 strike out and gave up 1 hit in his 1.0 inning of work. At one point he threw 6 straight curveballs. Betances now has 6.1 scoreless innings of work this spring with just 2 hits allowed. If he keeps this up, it’ll be hard to imagine the Yankees optioning him back down to Triple-A.
The Rays finally got to the Yankees in the 7th and 8th innings against Bruce Billings and Danny Burawa, who combined to allow 3 runs. Matt Daley looked impressive in the 9th inning, earning 2 strike outs, and Mark Montgomery had hitters very confused in a clean 10th inning.
Offensively, the only extra base hit came from Jacoby Ellsbury in the third inning. Alfonso Soriano and Jose Pirela had the only multi-hit games, each earning two singles. Pirela is one of the least talked about players on this team, but after a hot winter and now a strong spring, I think the 24 year old has some sort of chance to make the major league team. In 2013, he hit .272/.359/.413 for Double-A Trenton, hitting 10 home runs in a pitcher-friendly park and league and stealing 18 bases. His combination of power and speed could entice the Yankees to give him a look as a utility player at some point in 2014.