Freddy Garcia was hit on the hand yesterday by a comebacker, but the Yankees dodged a bullet when his x-rays turned out to be negative. Still, it was a right hand injury so Garcia might miss one or even two starts or more and it is possible that he might not be ready to start the season.
That got me thinking about who could be the guy to replace Garcia on the roster if he’s not ready to go. He is battling for a spot in the rotation, but he was expected to be the odd man out and serve as the long-man in the ‘pen. So if the Yankees were to replace him they would probably need another long-man – David Phelps.
The Yankees used Hector Noesi in that role at times last season and it actually seemed like he was coming along well. So well that Brian Cashman declared that he was a candidate in the rotation this year before he was traded. So why not bring Pehlps along the same way?
The Yankees need a long-man, give him the job and if he handles it well he could compete for a larger role in 2013. If he struggles, the Yankees could try out Adam Warren or D.J. Mitchell in this role. They would probably want to try to keep Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos in the minors for another full season, but could be tempted to push them if they begin putting up insane numbers.
However, Phelps is probably the first in line when it comes to trying to fill this role. That is because there really is no reason for Phelps to stay in Triple-A. A few guys have experience at that level, but he has spent more time than most.
He was promoted there in 2010 and tossed 70.1 innings with a 3.07 ERA, a 7.3 K/9 and a 1.7 BB/9. In 2011 he repeated the level throwing 107.1 innings with a 3.19 ERA, a 7.5 K/9 and a 2.2 BB/9. Those are solid and consistent numbers, he’s ready for a promotion. It seems likely that he would have been promoted last season if not for a shoulder injury that sidelined him for nearly two months.
Now he’s healthy and pitching well (he hasn’t given up a run in seven innings this spring), he should be first in line for a promotion if there is need for a long-man in the bullpen. At some point soon it might be time just to give him a spot as a middle reliever.
If Garcia’s hand keeps him from starting the season with the Yankees, perhaps Phelps’ opportunity could come as soon as Opening Day.