David Phelps

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David Edward Phelps

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher David Phelps reached the majors with the New York Yankees in 2012.

After graduating from Hazelwood West High School, Phelps went to Notre Dame, where as a sophomore, he struck out 102 batters while posting a 1.88 ERA. After going 5-5 with a 4.65 ERA and 75 strikeouts as a junior, he was selected by the Yankees in the 14th round of the 2008 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Mike Gibbons and made his pro debut that summer, posting a 8-2 record and 2.72 ERA in 15 starts for the Staten Island Yankees. He began 2009 with the Charleston RiverDogs going 10-3 with a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts. He was promoted to the Tampa Yankees in late July and went 3-1 in 7 starts for the club, allowing just 5 earned runs in that time.

Phelps was with the AA Trenton Thunder to start 2010 and was 6-0 with a 2.04 ERA in 14 starts. He again advanced up the Yankees ladder in early July, joining the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, and went 4-2 with a 3.07 ERA in a dozen outings. He spent the majority of 2011 back with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he posted a 6-6 record and 3.19 ERA in 18 starts. After missing two months of the season with a shoulder injury, he also got into a pair of games with the GCL Yankees on a rehabilitation assignment that summer.

Phelps made New York's Opening Day roster in 2012 and got into his first game on April 8th, coming out of the bullpen and retiring both batters he faced to end the game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Phelps retired the first 12 batters of his career, but the streak was ended by a Vernon Wells home run. He continued to pitch quite well over the next few months, assuring his place as the swingman and long reliever out of the Yankees' bullpen.

On December 19, 2014, he was traded to the Miami Marlins along with Martin Prado in return for Nate Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and Domingo German. His 2015 season with the Marlins was a bit of a disappointment, as he was only 4-8, 4.50 in 23 games, including 19 starts. He pitched 112 innings, but had a good K/W ratio at 77/33. His season ended early when he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right forearm on August 18th. It wasn't clear how the injury had occurred, but he had had to leave his final start of the season, on August 16th after only 2 1/3 innings because of discomfort. When he came back in 2016, he was mainly a reliever, though, making only 5 starts among his 64 appearances. He went 7-6 with an excellent ERA at 2.28 and 114 Ks in 86 2/3 innings. He also recorded 4 saves.

Phelps continued to pitch well in 2017, even if he was not as dominant as the year before. In 44 games for Miami, all in relief, he was 2-4, 3.45 with 51 strikeouts in 47 games. With the trade deadline approaching, his name was mentioned as one of the more interesting relievers on the market, thanks to his recent success and the fact that he was under contract at a very reasonable salary for another year and a half. This explains why the Seattle Mariners were willing to give up four players to acquire him on July 20th. He went 2-1, 3.12 in 10 games for the Mariners, but made two stints on the disabled list because of elbow problems. Then on March 17, 2018, he tore the ulnar ligament in his elbow in an outing in a Cactus League game. He had to undergo Tommy John surgery, putting him out for the season.

He returned to action in 2019 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays weren't sure what they would get, but he pitched well in 17 games, including one start as an opener, putting up an ERA of 3.63 in 17 1/3 innings with 18 strikeouts and no decisions. They decided to cash in on his renewed value at the trading deadline, sending him to the Chicago Cubs on July 30 in return for Thomas Hatch, who turned out to be a very promising young pitcher. With the Cubs, he continued to pitch well, with a 3.18 ERA in 24 games, a 2-1 record and 1 save. After the season, he joined the Milwaukee Brewers as a free agent, but for the second straight year he was included in a deadline deal, this time going to the Philadelphia Phillies for three players to be named later. He was 2-3, 2.77 in 12 games at the time, with a 20/2 K/W ratio in 13 innings. However, he was awful with the Phils with an ERA of 12.91 in 10 games. He then returned to the Blue Jays as a free agent in 2021, and in the early going was one of the pitchers who gave the team an unexpectedly good bullpen: in 11 games, including one turn as an opener, his ERA was 0.87, with 15 Ks and 4 walks in 10 1/3 innings. However, he had to leave a game against the Oakland Athletics on May 5th before throwing a pitch, having felt some discomfort. He was placed on the injured list as the Jays tried to figure out what was wrong; it turned out to be more serious than anyone expected as he had to undergo surgery on a lat muscle, wiping out the remainder of his season. It was a big blow for the Jays as not only was he pitching well, but as one of the few members of their bullpen with significant big league experience, he was an important asset in helping some of their younger pitchers get adjusted to life in the big leagues.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ethan Diamandas: "‘The Professor’ David Phelps brings more than a crafty pitch mix to Blue Jays", Yahoo! Sports, May 4, 2022. [1]

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