2014 Statistics: 32 G, 17 GS, 113 IP, 4.38 ERA, 4.41 FIP, 7.3 K/9, 3.7 BB/9
2015 Contract Status: Arbitration Eligible
In spring training this year, David Phelps was part of a four-way battle with Adam Warren, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno for the fifth spot in the Yankees' starting rotation. While Phelps pitched like a man worthy of that spot, so did the other three. Pineda got the nod when camp broke at least in part because the others had experience working out of a bullpen, and with that Phelps had the opportunity to assert himself in a setup role.
He didn't exactly take the bull by the horns as he surrendered three home runs in his first two outings, both Yankee losses. However he quickly found his groove and recorded five holds and a save over his next seven appearances. By the beginning of May, Pineda was put on the disabled list with a shoulder injury, and it opened the door for Phelps to enter the starting rotation again. At this point, Ivan Nova was already done for the year and CC Sabathia's knee was beginning to act up, so all he needed to do to stay in the rotation was stay healthy and keep his ERA out of the stratosphere.
Doing so would prove to be tougher than expected. After an up-and-down May while getting stretched out to starter length, Phelps was smacked around in June to the tune of a 5.25 ERA and .805 OPS against. Phelps did mix in his best start of the year that month as his lone bright spot: 6 2/3 innings of two-hit shutout ball against the red-hot Oakland Athletics. July also turned out much better as he settled down with a 2.97 ERA and 1.187 WHIP in five starts. Unfortunately, those starts would be the last highlights of Phelps' season. The Red Sox crushed him in an August 3rd start at Fenway Park, and he left after allowing five runs in just two innings on 53 pitches. It turned out that Phelps was suffering from elbow inflammation, and that landed him on the 15-day DL. He wouldn't pitch again until September 12th, and by then, the Yankees felt that it was best to limit him to short relief for the rest of the season.
Phelps' 2014 campaign did not offer much new information on his future. He was again a back-of-the-rotation quality starter with an ERA and FIP over 10% worse than league average (112 ERA-, 113 FIP-), and he battled injuries at times yet again after working through a forearm strain last year. The 28-year-old Phelps probably still has a job on the major league team as a poor man's Ramiro Mendoza swinging between starting and relief, but at this point, one could make a case that the younger Shane Greene and Bryan Mitchell might represent more intriguing options in the rotation. Phelps certainly didn't do too much to help his case in 2014.