First Pitch: Don't forget about Phelps

NEW YORK -- Lost amidst all the talk about whether Phil Hughes should be dropped from the rotation is the emergence of David Phelps.

The 26-year-old appears to have a solid hold on the No. 4 spot in the Yankees' starting five, and will pitch Friday in the series opener in Baltimore.

Phelps started the season in the bullpen, making six relief appearances in April before stepping into the rotation in place of the injured Ivan Nova on May 1. He hasn't relinquished the spot since, and currently sports a record of 5-4 with a 4.01 ERA.

The Yankees should feel good about sending Phelps to the mound against the Orioles. He is undefeated in his previous nine starts against American League East opponents, dating back to Aug. 27, 2012, going 4-0 with a 3.91 ERA. Since being promoted to the big leagues for the first time last April, Phelps is 6-1 with a 3.51 ERA in 24 appearances against division opponents.

Hughes, the former first-round draft pick, remains in danger of losing his spot in the rotation, despite a good performance on Thursday. Meanwhile Phelps, a 14th-round draft pick out of Notre Dame, appears to have a secure job.

That's how it goes sometimes. Baseball's a tricky game.

UP NOW: Despite a strong performance from Hughes, the Yankees lost to the Rangers on Thursday, 2-0. The Yankees matched a season-low with just two hits, and Alex Rodriguez may not come back this season after all.

ON DECK: The third series of the season between the Yankees and Orioles begins -- the Yanks took two of three in the Bronx in April, and the O's took two of three in Baltimore in May.

Kevin Gausman (0-3, 7.66) is expected to start opposite Phelps. The 22-year-old righty was called up directly from Double-A in late May, but has struggled in his first five major league starts, going 0-3 with a 7.66 ERA. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft out of LSU.

First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Camden Yards. Andrew Marchand will be on the scene for ESPNNewYork.com.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you trust Phelps as the Yankees' fourth starter?