David Phelps left last night's game with inflammation near his right elbow, continuing this season's trend of injuries to the rotation. The Yankees have since said that they're "confident it's not a ligament issue" and it sounds as though Phelps has been experiencing the soreness for several weeks, and previously had an MRI on it, which came back clean. In the event that Phelps does need to miss time, there are not a whole lot of options as to who could take his place in the rotation.
One of those options is Bryan Mitchell, who has done a lot of traveling back and forth between the majors and the minors this season, yet hasn't made it into a single game for the Yankees. Mitchell began the season in Double-A, where he pitched 61.1 innings with a 4.84 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 8.80 K/9, and 4.26 BB/9. Since being promoted to Triple-A, he has a 2.88 ERA and 4.98 FIP, with a 1.44 WHIP through 25 IP. He might be the best option to fill in for Phelps of the players already on the 40-man roster.
The Yankees could also have David Huff make a spot start, but if he had to join the rotation, then Esmil Rogers would be the only long reliever in the bullpen. Huff has been good in relief, sporting a 1.93 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 23.1 innings with the Yankees. Opponents are only hitting .227 against him. Although he has experience starting for the Yankees, it might be better to leave him in the bullpen because he has done well there. Plus, they would probably need to call someone up to take his spot in the pen, if he did replace Phelps, in which case it might make more sense for Mitchell to start instead of moving everyone around.
Recent addition Esmil Rogers is another option. He came to the Yankees from the Blue Jays, where most of his appearances came as a starter. It is not difficult to see why he lost that job. Through 20.2 innings, he had a 6.97 ERA, 5.41 FIP, 4.03 xFIP, and a 1.69 WHIP. Whew, that is ugly. While he did have a high number of strikeouts, 9.15 K/9, he also allowed quite a few home runs (2.18 HR/9). Rogers pitched well during three innings of relief last night, allowing no hits, one walk, and recording three strikeouts, but Mitchell and Huff both stand out as better candidates to start for Phelps if it comes to that.
Anyone clamoring for Chase Whitley to rejoin the rotation should be mindful that he has never pitched more than 81 innings in a single season, and he's already reached 88.1 this season. There is very little chance of him moving out of the bullpen now. Hopefully Phelps' arm is okay after a few days, and he only needs to miss one start, if that. Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka, the team misses you, and you cannot return soon enough.
Who would you like to see take Phelps spot, if the elbow injury causes him to miss a start?