Before David Phelps took the ball last night, Joe Girardi called it a “good opportunity” for the second-year pitcher. Ivan Nova had landed on the disabled list, a spot in the rotation had opened, and Phelps was given a chance to make his case as a starting pitcher.
“It’s one of the reasons I’m really frustrated with today,” Phelps said his no-decision. “Because I felt like I could have just really grabbed the reins and taken care of things. But it’s baseball. Stuff happens, and you’ve just got to do better next time.”
Phelps wasn’t bad last night. In fact, when Chris Stewart was asked what went wrong, Stewart didn’t hesitate before saying, “nothing.”
“He threw well,” Stewart said. “Just kind of bad luck. He hit a couple guys, but other than that, he made his pitches, and the ball found its way through the hole or squeaked over our heads. There’s nothing you can do with that. It’s the unfortunate part of baseball sometimes, it happens. He put his game face back on, went out for the next inning, and threw well again. He didn’t really let it get to him. He knew it was a tie game and we were probably going to score a couple more runs for him.”
Girardi said more or less the same thing, focusing on the fact the Astros didn’t make a lot of hard contact against Phelps. Of course, it’s hard to ignore the fact that — hard contact or not — Phelps lost a four-run lead against the worst team in the American League.
“The (four-run) fourth inning killed all the momentum we built up,” Phelps said. “I’ve got to do better than that. … I was pretty upset. It’s in a situation where I could have gotten out of the inning there. If I make a pitch, let them roll over, we get a double play or get a quick out. Hitting somebody with the bases loaded is just as bad as walking them. It shouldn’t happen.”
I’m not sure the Yankees really know what exactly they have in Phelps. They’ve seen enough to know they want to see more, and there’s certainly reason to think Phelps could emerge as a legitimate rotation option going forward, but circumstance has kind of left him in between. Phelps seems certain to get at least one more start, and eventually he’ll define himself one way or the other. But even after a blown lead last night, there’s still a lot to like about him.
“He’s been around,” Stewart said. “Obviously playing in New York, it’s not like playing anywhere else. He was here last year, he’d been through the same kind of experience, he knew how to settle himself down and get back to where he needed to be.”
Don’t forget, I’m chatting today at 2 p.m. Stop by if you can! Even if it means blowing off work for a little while. Your boss will understand. There’s a new backup infielder to discuss! These things are important!
Associated Press photo