David Phelps is currently on the DL with elbow inflammation. He is still about two or three weeks away from coming back, but the Yankees have already make the decision that he will be moved into the bullpen upon his return. This is the wrong call. The Yankees need to continue to develop Phelps as a starter. Phelps has proven himself to be capable of pitching in a starting role over the last two years. He can be a cheap back of the rotation starter for the Yankees going into next year. Meanwhile, Chris Capuano will continue to get more starts. The Yankees are 9.5 games out of first, and 5 games out of the Wild Card. They are not likely to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year. The time is now to think about 2015 and beyond.
Chris Capuano has pitched well for the Bombers, but the fact remains that he is 36-years-old and will not be wearing pinstripes in 2015. Phelps, however, will be. Phelps has proven himself capable of pitching both as a starter and out of the bullpen. A starting pitcher is much more valuable than a long reliever, so why banish a promising young arm to the ‘pen? Phelps is still only 27-years-old and under team control until after the 2019 season. While he has pitched better out of the ‘pen than starting, owning a 4.28 ERA in 17 starts this season while sporting a 3.89 ERA in 11 2/3 innings out of the ‘pen, it is not a significant enough difference to justify abandoning Phelps as a starter.
Phelps needs the experience offered by an extra handful of starts in this lost season. He nearly won the fifth starter’s job in spring training, and has been a more than adequate replacement for the injured starting rotation that has beleaguered the Yankees all season. A team cannot have enough starting pitching depth, a fact that has been proven once again during this campaign. It would be foolish for the Yankees to walk away from using Phelps as a starter moving forward. Phelps should be given every opportunity to be a starter for the rest of this season and going into the next.