Earlier Friday, my colleague Jon Lane wrote a feature piece wondering whether or not Freddy Garcia is (or should be) looking over his shoulder after a rough performance against Oakland was backed up by a strong one from David Phelps.
In my mind, the answer is yes…but not just because of performance.
Let me ask one simple question: who has a better shot at being a Yankee next year – Garcia or Phelps?
Chances are, you answered Phelps, right? So then, at this point, given that thinking, might it not make more sense to give Phelps an extended look until Andy Pettitte returns?
Numbers play a big part, of course. But, as Jon mentions in his piece, the stats say that Garcia is 2-3 with a 7.18 ERA as a starter this season, but went 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA in 10 appearances after being “banished” to a relief role.
Meanwhile, Phelps is 0-1, 2.08 in his three starts, and if you wanted to include his stellar 5.1 IP in back of Phil Hughes against the Angels back in April (which was almost, to be fair, like a start), that ERA drops below 1.50.
The one bug-a-boo may be pitch count, as Phelps hasn’t gotten out of the fifth innings in any of his three starts – but to be fair, in eight starts, Garcia has started the sixth inning in just four of them and finished it only once, so numerically, he hasn’t given much more distance.
As Jon also mentioned, Joe Girardi said Thursday that he doesn’t envision Phelps as just a long reliever, but sees him more in the role Cory Wade excelled at earlier this season.
And there’s your other reason, because both Garcia and Phelps have somewhat filled that role this year, and to be fair, The Chief has been better at it.
It may not be an easy decision, sure; Girardi also said after Pettitte’s injury that Garcia had earned the right to start again. But at some point, the skipper has to do what’s best for the team.
While not as electric as Phil Hughes, Garcia can be the kind of guy for the Yankees in 2012 that Hughes ostensibly was in 2009 – a quality part of the bridge to the end who can also help you out by throwing multiple innings in a pinch. And, in moving him to that role and putting Phelps into the rotation, you can continue the rookie’s development as a starter while also giving the brass a roughly six-week look at someone who, given the franchise’s contract statuses and luxury-tax avoidance desires going forward, could be one of their starting five in 2013.
At the very least, he’d have a highly-competent long reliever behind him if he fails, right?