The Royals offense will try to rebound tonight in front of a national TV audience against another relatively anonymous pitcher in David Phelps. While yesterday's ace Chase Whitley did not have much of a track record in the minors to forecast his success, Phelps has actually performed well when given the chance.
The right-handed Phelps was a 14th round draft pick out of the University of Notre Dame, although he is originally from St. Louis (Hazelwood West High School, for you St. Louisians dying to know). He performed well for the Yankees at every level, but stalled out in AAA because its just hard to break into an $80 million starting rotation. In parts of three seasons, Phelps has made 29 starts and pitched competently with a 4.35 ERA with 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
Phelps was involved in trade talks with the Mariners this past winter, but the Yankees are probably glad they held onto him as their rotation has been decimated by injuries. Phelps has made six starts this year, with a 4.19 ERA, right in-line with his 4.11 ERA overall in fifteen games.
Phelps throws a fastball in the low-90s with a cutter and a curveball, and will on rare occasion mix in a change-up. Phelps is 27, so he pretty much is what he is, a competent back-of-the-rotation guy who can strike guys out but will also walk patient hitters (3.6 walks per nine innings in 232 Major League innings).
Danny Duffy on the other hand, I still don't feel like we have a good handle on what he is. Is he the guy who strikes out a lot of hitters, but struggles to get through five innings like we saw last year? Is he the guy who threw a perfect game through seven innings against the Orioles like we saw a few weeks ago? Is he the guy whose strikeouts are way down but has succeeded with an insanely lucky BABIP? It is tough to say how Duffy will perform going forward, but the spotlight will be on him tonight, and he has a chance to make some believers tonight.
Derek Jeter should be back in the lineup tonight, so relax you Yankees fans that drove all the way from Lincoln, Nebraska. You get to witness the leadership and moxie that catapulted The Captain all the way to Cooperstown.