Even though skipper Joe Girardi won’t name the 5th starter until the end of Spring Training, my guess is Phelps and Pineda are the two major candidates.
Phelps does have a slight edge due to Pineda’s health.
Pineda was traded from the Mariners to the Yankees following an all-star rookie campaign in 2011 when he led MLB rookies in strikeouts (173) and was second in innings pitched (171), opponents’ batting average (.211) and quality starts (19).
Since arriving in the Bronx, the 25-year old righty has been mending from shoulder surgery the last two seasons, and hasn’t thrown a pitch yet.
And if GM Brian Cashman is correct and Pineda is healthy again, the starting position should go to him.
Even if Phelps looks steady and the two have a close battle, the Yankees should favor Pineda.
Easy…Phelps has experience pitching out of the bullpen, and Pineda does not.
When Pineda arrived in Seattle he was immediately slotted into the rotation and was never used in relief. So if he doesn’t get the job, hello Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
As for Phelps, coming up with the Yankees entails being tossed back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation unfortunately allows him to be used in relief.
This modern flip-flopping of roles has doomed a lot of the Yankees pitching prospects, hence Joba, Hughes and Kennedy. And Phelps is following right in their footsteps, as I pointed out in a post back in August of 2012 titled, Please don’t run Phelps too.
Phelps looked solid in his first ST outing this past week, striking out four batters after giving up a home run in the two innings he pitched.
Pineda has yet to throw in an ST game, but is scheduled to sometime next week.
But to put it bluntly, Pineda has the tangibles to be greater than Phelps in my opinion.
Overall, it is way to premature to make any judgment calls just yet.
To steal a recent quote from the Yankees skipper courtesy of the NJ Star Ledger, “You evaluate, but I don’t think it’s fair to give a big evaluation now. I’m more concerned about what they’re doing at the end of camp than what they are at the beginning.”
True, but this Yankees fan has waited two long years to finally see this Pineda trade payoff.
But I do believe that the best man should win no matter what!!