clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

David Phelps is the Next Danny Duffy

David Phelps pitched a beautiful game at the Coors, and he has certainly earned our attention.

Not every success story involves the most exciting names.
Not every success story involves the most exciting names.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Probably it was very far from the most watched game of the day, but I had my eyes on the Marlins at Colorado match on August 5, 2016. Since the famous Colin Rea refund trade, the pitching-desperate Marlins came up with an interesting idea to slot David Phelps back into the rotation, and their creative move caught my attention.

The team is currently on a very tight race for the Wild Card spot, and they don't have any room for an error. The Marlins can't waste any single game for an experiment purpose, so when they decided to put their primary setup man on the mound to start the game, there had to be a good reason for it. Yet, they were right about it.

Phelps silenced the red hot Rockies, who had the best record since the All-Star break, at the Coors by throwing 4.1 shutout innings (4K 4H 1BB 0HR), and the Fish went on to win that game 5 to 3.

Phelps has been nothing but a mediocre pitcher since he came up through the Yankees system. He has been in and out of rotation every season, and he owned career 4.29 ERA before 2016. This season, the Marlins finally decided to use him exclusively as their high leverage reliever, and he has been fabulous. In his 50 appearances, he put up very impressive 2.65 ERA with amazing 11.4 K/9. He has been relatively better as a reliever throughout his career, but his career relief stat as of last season was still average looking 4.02 ERA with 9.6 K/9.

What has changed? The Velocity, the panacea to every pitching problem. He not only was tagged as a bullpen member since the beginning of the season, but also started to throw cutters instead of sliders, just like every other pitcher in MLB these days. Both changes together took some pressure off from his throwing arm, and they have successfully led to an improvement in his overall numbers.

Obviously, the key here is to maintain his bullpen velocity even when he starts. It won't be easy, but he showed a very promising sign on his first start. His fastball and cutter each clocked in at 93.8 and 91.1, which came very close to his season average. Earlier this season, the exact same thing happened to the Royals lefty Danny Duffy, and we know the rest (read more about Danny Duffy). They both have similar career track record up until this point, and their bullpen-to-starter transition after gaining velocity is surprisingly identical.

You can easily say "I know this guy. It's just one start, and he certainly can't continue this" and sleep on him. He isn't the most exciting name like the other fresh young arms, but your same game plan probably missed out on Duffy. We only have two more months to go, and we have a lot less to lose than the Marlins do at this point. Put him on your roster and watch how this plays out. He certainly did enough to earn our respect.

Steamer Rest of the Season Projection

Player

IP

W

SV

ERA

WHIP

SO

David Phelps

18

1

0

2.89

1.15

19