David Phelps prepares for showdown with Chris Sale and the White Sox

Before yesterday’s game, the initial pitching matchup was supposed to be David Phelps against former Yankee Hector Noesi with the White Sox planning on giving Chris Sale another rehab start before returning from the disabled list. A few minutes before the first pitch of the Yankees/Cubs game, the White Sox announced Chris Sale was going to make the start for the White Sox tonight, which means the Yankees will go across town to begin a four game showdown with the White Sox ace on the mound.

David Phelps has been slightly inconsistent with the Yankees since joining the rotation, but although he has the stuff to be a number 4-5 starter, the one thing that concerns the Yankees is Phelps’s ability to go the distance in games. Phelps throws so many pitches through five innings that he rarely has a chance to go at least 6-7 and not tax the bullpen. If there’s one thing the Yankees need from Phelps tonight, it’s length. The entire Yankees bullpen was used after yesterday’s 13-inning marathon, and some pitchers have already went back-to-back days.

This four series contest will also be interesting, since this would be the first American League showdown for the Yankees in about a week; they faced the Mets (home and away), the Pirates (home) and the Cubs (away). The Yankees are also slated to play against the Cardinals next Monday, Tuesday Wednesday in St. Louis. With an American League showdown, now would be the time to see how Girardi plans to use Ichiro Suzuki now that Carlos Beltran is out of the Yankees lineup for who knows how long. It wasn’t experimented since Ichiro was battling a sore back while Beltran had his elbow issues, but now that Ichiro’s healthy, it will be interesting to see how much playing time he’ll actually receive after coming into camp as the “fourth outfielder”.

The Yankees need to either win this series or salvage a split. With the tight mediocre race in the American League East standings, they have the opportunity to vault themselves at least 2-3 games ahead of their AL East opponents, especially if they’re pitching is there and their hitting is consistent. The Yankees have a legitimate chance to gain ground–it’s up to them to make it a reality.

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