I almost missed this, but Joe announced after Wednesday night’s game that the Yanks are planning to bring David Phelps back as a reliever now that he’s started throwing again. While that may go against the unwritten rule of not losing your job due to injury, there are a lot of reasons why this is the right move.
For starters, the rotation isn’t exactly suffering without him. McCarthy-Kuroda-Greene-Pineda has been a strong foursome and Chris Capuano‘s final lines are usually made to look worse by bad relief work behind him. He’s been perfectly fine as a 5th starter.
The bullpen is where things are dire. Joe’s binder is basically down to the Betances, D-Rob, and “If You’d Reached This Chapter Then You’re Probably Screwed” sections. Adding a fresh arm in Phelps would give Joe another option for some of the higher-leverage middle relief innings and one he’s familiar and comfortable with. It would also allow Phelps to get through his rehab and get back to pitching in meaningful games quicker, and it could help limit the risk for another follow-up injury.
That might me the most important point. Phelps’ right arm hasn’t been a pillar of health these last 2 seasons. He missed a big chunk of time last year with a forearm/elbow strain and had a setback coming back from that. Now he’s got another elbow area injury and he’s had a heavier workload this year than in either of the last 2. 108 innings is hardly a career high for Phelps if you include the Minors, but it is the highest in his Major League career and it’s come at the end of 3 straight years of back-and-forth role changes.
There’s no need to bring Phelps back to help a part of the roster that doesn’t need his help, and no reason to put more stress on his elbow than you need to. Let Phelps get stretched out, let him test the elbow with some relief work, and hopefully send him into the offseason healthy and ready to rest and re-strengthen for next year. Adding another long-term arm injury to the menu would not be fun.