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Phelps: The Next Joba or Hughes?

David Phelps pitched 5 strong innings yesterday against the Texas Rangers which begs the question, should the Yankees put him on track to become a starter?

The emergence of Phelps this season has helped solidify the Yankees bullpen as one of the best in the majors. However, this wouldn’t be the first time the Yanks have an arm that is capable of starting or relieving. For example, remember the Joba Chamberlain in the rotation experiment or how well Phil Hughes pitched from the pen?

After last night’s start, Phelps has joined the likes of Chamberlain and Hughes in the sense that the Yankees now need to decide where Phelps will best help the team in the 2013 season and beyond. With the likes of CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte’s return to the rotation on the horizon, it is safe to say that Phelps main role this year will ultimately be from the pen. But come next spring Phelps could be an asset toeing the rubber every 5th day.

Including last night, Phelps has made 4 starts and has pitched 57 innings in his rookie season. He sports an impressive 2.53 ERA and has a strike-out rate of 9.32 per 9 innings. Those are dominating numbers coming from any pitcher, especially a rookie.

Whatever the Yankees decide to do with Phelps in the future, they need to choose a path for him and stick with it. With the offseason to prepare, Phelps could be a solid middle of the rotation pitcher for the Yanks. However, if the Yankees choose to keep him in the bullpen, then they have a long-relief man that they can count on for quite some time. Wherever Phelps ends up, his future looks to be a bright one.