The 27-year-old right-hander came down with some elbow inflammation and has now been placed on the 15-day disabled list—only problem is that this apparently has been going on for weeks, per Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com:
According to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Phelps has suffered from the inflammation for "three or four weeks" and had an MRI, that came back clean, after a start against the Cincinnati Reds on July 18 in which he pitched well and won a 4-3 game.
"We thought it was something we could manage, and he was managing," Girardi said. "He was pitching well. It was just inflammation. But today, for whatever reason, it bothered him."
That's right. The Yankees knew what was going on with Phelps' elbow and still sent him out to the mound anyway. Granted, it obviously wasn't serious enough to prevent him from taking the ball, but manager Joe Girardi and company should have known better than to let an elbow problem fester.
Yes, the MRI came back clean; however there was clear inflammation and there was a cause for precaution.
Especially after losing Ivan Nova to Tommy John surgery and coming close with ace Masahiro Tanaka, who still isn't out of the woods yet and will require the surgery should rest and treatment not get the job done.
Phelps actually performed well when he was supposedly pitching with his elbow inflamed. He had a streak of five straight games allowing two runs or less and pitching five or more innings. In his last two starts before going on the shelf, Phelps allowed nine runs on 14 hits in eight innings of work.
Clearly his ineffectiveness coincided with the worsening of his injury, or at least it would seem. Had the Yanks gotten out in front of Phelps' injury and maybe sat him down for one start, a three-start or more hiatus wouldn't be necessary now.
Sure, the Yanks needed Phelps with their already depleted rotation, and he was becoming a more reliable arm, but this team has suffered too many loses to take risks like the one it took with Phelps. It was an unnecessary one to say the least considering the 2014 Bronx Bombers are well-experienced and successful in the field of spot starting.
Girardi says phelps going to DL, wont pick up a baseball for two weeks. Had another mri, still just tendinitis. But needs time off.
— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) August 4, 2014
Find a replacement for one start? No problem. Lose Phelps for an extended period of time? Big problem.
It's mind-boggling to think the Yankees have gone through all of this just to be careless with a developing arm injury. Hopefully for the Yanks, it doesn't end up being more serious because Phelps has become almost as important as any ailing starter the Yanks can get back this season.
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