Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Phelps had a reputation for being mostly a fastball guy who lacked a put-away offspeed pitch, and that seems to largely be true. He does have a curveball, a cutter, and a changeup, and these pitches significantly lessen the pressure on Phelps’ solid-average, but not excellent, fastball—Phelps has gone offspeed 43.3% of the time this year. None of the three offerings, however, has a whiff rate higher than the curve’s 11.4%, so he doesn’t have a bigtime “out pitch.” The curve is a surprisingly hard (78-82 mph) breaker, and Phelps pounds the zone with the cutter (72.1% strikes), so he’s been able to coax some value out of those two offerings. Like Smyly, the changeup is a distant fourth pitch that is used exclusively to opposite-side batters.
It all adds up to a guy who is more than the sum of his parts; none of Phelps’ pitches wow you, but he’s got three solid pitches and a fourth usable one, and he commands all of them and doesn’t have any obvious weaknesses. The Yankees have high standards, but for almost any other team, Phelps would be a great guy to plug into the back of the rotation.
Here’s an interesting look at some rookie pitchers and their Pitch F/X, including David Phelps.
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