First Pitch: Phelps in crucial start

October, 2, 2012
10/02/12
7:00
AM ET
David PhelpsAnthony Gruppuso/US PresswireDavid Phelps tries to pitch the Yankees into an AL East title tonight.
David Phelps was the last man on the Yankees' roster coming out of spring training.

He's now starting what will be a pivotal game Tuesday in the penultimate game of the year.

"It's been wild, to say the least," Phelps said.

The Yankees have placed extreme faith in Phelps as they decided to bump Ivan Nova from the rotation to allow Phelps to start Tuesday against Boston. Phelps, who has bounced between the bullpen and rotation, is 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA spanning 32 games, 10 of which have been starts.

"It's awesome. It's a big game and we need these three coming home," Phelps said. "To know they feel like I can go out there and give us a chance to win, it's a big deal."

It's fair to say that Phelps has been among the most pleasant surprises for the Yankees this season as he emerged as a reliable arm out of the bullpen. They've bounced him back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation throughout the year and it hasn't affected him as he's been trustworthy no matter the situation.

While Nova's struggles played a large part in Phelps' promotion, it shows the trust the Yankees have in Phelps to give him the ball while they are still fighting for the AL East crown and home field. Granted, this Red Sox lineup is practically straight out of Triple-A, but it's still a high-pressure start and could determine where the Yankees finish this year.

Phelps is looking forward to the challenge.

"I want to go out there and pitch, I want to pitch a big game," Phelps said. "They don't get a whole lot bigger than down the stretch in a pennant race."

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you trust Phelps in this big spot tomorrow? Please let us know in the comments section below.

UP NOW: Andrew Marchand writes about the Yankees' hottest hitter, Robinson Cano. I wrote about CC Sabathia's strong finish to the year and how the Yankees control their own destiny moving forward. There's also a news story on Mark Teixeira's return.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: Phelps (4-4, 3.34 ERA) will oppose Jon Lester (9-14, 4.94) at 7:05 p.m. Marchand and Johnette Howard will have you covered from the Stadium.

Matt Ehalt

ESPN New York contributor

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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Brett Gardner
BA HR RBI R
.281 14 47 68
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 18
RBIM. Teixeira 50
RB. Gardner 68
OPSB. Gardner .813
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135