With the injuries to Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda, both David Phelps and Vidal Nuno have a golden opportunity to cement a place for themselves in the New York Yankees starting rotation for this season and possibly beyond.
At least one of those spots could turn out to be a long-term job, as Ivan Nova's Tommy John surgery will keep him out for the rest of this season and some of next. Meanwhile, Pineda's injury will put him on the disabled list and will keep him out about three to four weeks.
In his place, Phelps will continue to get the ball and Nuno is already replacing Nova.
However, Pineda will return in due time and that means one of the two young starters will be the odd man out, and that means both are battling for their chance to stay in the rotation.
There is a little leeway for Phelps considering he's been at least a serviceable reliever for the Bronx Bombers during his time with the team. On the flip side, Nuno has struggled out of the bullpen this season, so making the transition back to reliever from a starter would be far more difficult for him as opposed to Phelps.
It can be argued Nuno must surpass Phelps during this trial period with Pineda gone because if he doesn't, it'll be back to the 'pen for him. If that happens, the Yanks have already proven they have no patience with ineffective relievers (Cesar Cabral) and that could spell trouble for Nuno.
If the two succeed in their roles then the Yanks will have a nice problem on their hands. It remains to be seen if such a rosy scenario will take place, but there's no arguing that New York needs Phelps and Nuno to step up in a big way with two huge voids in its starting five.
Regardless of who wins the battle, this next month will say a lot about where each of these pitchers stands and what their future holds in pinstripes.
If neither answers the bell, the Yanks will be in an even worse position than they are now and that could lead to the Yanks needing to make a trade in order to right the ship.Tags: Baseball, David Phelps, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, MLB, New York, New York Yankees, Vidal Nuno