David Phelps made his first major league start in Kansas City Thursday going four innings while giving up a pair of runs and all things considered it was a promising start for the 25-year-old.
He ran into a bit of trouble right away in the 1st inning when a single, an error, and a wild pitch put a runner on third with just one out, but he managed to battle out of the inning. In the 2nd, he gave up a homer to Mike Moustakas and a double to Chris Getz as he allowed his first run. He gave up another run in the 3rd as he was victimized by three singles.
Finally by the 4th inning it looked like he had settled down both mentally and physically as he threw his first 1-2-3 inning. Unfortunately for him, since he hasn’t started since spring training Joe Girardi kept him on an 85-pitch count and he was done after four.
It wasn’t an amazing performance by any stretch, but considering the nerves he must have had being out there for the first time it wasn’t bad. He threw five different pitches (a fastball, changeup, slider, curve, and two-seamer) and topped out at 94.4 mph with his fastball, according to PitchFX.
After the game he was compared to Phil Hughes a bunch because of the high pitch count. His inability to finish off batters in the 2nd and 3rd innings was a bit concerning, but it seemed like nerves as much as anything after an impressive 4th inning. In his next start he should have no pitch limit though and hopefully he can build off that 4th inning.
Growing off that final inning is important because he maybe only has one more start in the rotation before Andy Pettitte comes back. Once that happens it’ll be either Phelps or Hughes that is bounced out of the rotation and if Phelps is having similar problems, unable to finish off batters and inflating his pitch count, than there is no way he’s staying in the rotation over Hughes.
It was a solid start by Phelps, but now that he has gotten the first performance out of the way he’s going to have to improve and be even better the next time out otherwise he’ll risk losing his rotation spot.