Ok, before I get to the Nardi Contreras and Mark Newman comments, I’ve got to take you through this game, which was won by the Thunder, 2-0. Trenton had four hits (RBI singles from Matt Cusick and Justin Snyder) accounted for the runs, but still managed to pull this one out. Why? Two reasons.
One…Fisher Cats pitching issued eight walks.
Phelps has very, very quietly started out the season 6-0 and lowered his Eastern League leading ERA to just 2.04 tonight after pitching six scoreless innings in which he scattered six hits, walked two and struck out seven. Not only is he a lock to pitch in the All-Star Game in Harrisburg this year, he may very well get the start.
“I’d be shocked if he weren’t there,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.
“He pitched a heck of a ballgame. He’s been like that all year, so why should anything be any different. When he’s not like that, you figure something’s wrong.”
Oddly enough, Phelps didn’t feel like he had his best stuff tonight.
“This is definitely an interesting game,” he said.
“My last start, I felt like I had my best stuff I’ve had all year; command, velocity. And I gave up three runs. I come out today, and my first couple innings, I’m all over the place and really fighting to stay on line and get my pitches to where I want them to go. Somehow, I end up giving up no runs.”
Phelps credited his defense and catcher Austin Romine for getting him to throw the ball “through him instead of to the glove.”
“I feel like sometimes, I try to slow things down and try to be too perfect with my pitches,” Phelps said.
“I find myself trying to get the ball to hit a certain spot where he’s holding his glove, as opposed to trying to throw it through his glove on a line to his chest, which is where I feel like I get better extension and my ball’s got better life on it.”
Eastern League batters are hitting just .199 off of Phelps, who somehow lasted until the 14th round of the 2008 draft. Under the radar for seemingly his entire career, you could make an argument that despite his numbers, that’s still the case…with more highly touted pitchers such as Hector Noesi and now Andrew Brackman now in the rotation with him.
“You know, I don’t really mind flying under the radar,” Phelps said.
“It’s one of those things where I can go about going about my business without worrying about who’s looking at me and what’s going on. If some eyes open, great. It’s always a good thing, obviously. But whether eyes are opening or you’re under the radar, you have to go out there and do the same thing every day to try to get better each start.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com