Phelps trying to take the fifth

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- David Phelps threw five scoreless innings to push his totals for the spring to 14 innings and one run allowed. He is making a very strong case to be the fifth starter.

Ivan Nova has been very good in his own right. Nova will enter his start on Tuesday with a 1.80 ERA in five innings.

David Phelps

David Phelps

#41 RP
New York Yankees

2012 STATS

  • GM33
  • W4

  • L4

  • BB38

  • K96

  • ERA3.34

"They are matching each other inning for inning, start for start," Girardi said. "It is a good problem to have."

Still, on Sunday, Phelps put the pressure on Nova to at least hold serve as each start becomes more and more important.

The wind was blowing in at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and Phelps took advantage, using a similar game plan as he would during the season against a Blue Jay lineup that featured Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus, Melky Cabrera and Emilio Bonifacio. Phelps only allowed three hits, while striking out three and walking none.

"Results are always going to matter to me," Phelps said. "Even if I’m pitching in my backyard, I want to get outs."

Phelps has made it look as easy as if he were pitching to a child in his backyard. It is only spring training, but there are signs that Phelps is going to continue to grow after a rookie season in which he mainly was the long man. Overall, he went 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA. In 11 starts, he was 2-2 with a 3.77 ERA.

"He has picked up right where he left off," Girardi said.

By the end of the 2012 season, Phelps had surpassed Nova. In an important October 2nd start against the Red Sox, Girardi let Phelps start over Nova against the Red Sox. Phelps went 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs in a Yankee win.

2) IS HE THE JUAN?: Playing first base, Juan Rivera helped his case to make the team, nailing a three-run double in the fifth and going 3-for-4 for the day. Rivera gives the Yankees options in the outfield and first base.

The Yankees (4-11) won, but they continue to not hit very much. It is only spring training so those who say it doesn’t mean anything could be right. Still, besides Rivera, only Kevin Youkilis (a double) and Thomas Neal (a single) had hits.

3) GARDNER IS GOOD: Brett Gardner is a Yankee who has hit thus far. While he didn’t have a one on Sunday, he walked and scored a run. Gardner is hitting .407 in 27 at-bats.

4) LEARNING MOMENTS: Mark Montgomery is the reliever who seemed most likely to be called up and contribute at some point during the regular season. He still might, bu he has struggled in the spring. On Sunday, he picked up an out, but also allowed a hit and a walk.