The Process Versus New York’s Lesser-Known Starters | The Process Report

The Process Versus New York’s Lesser-Known Starters

Given the alternatives—namely Hiroki Kuroda—the Rays must be thrilled to see two relative unknowns slated to start the first two games of this weekend’s series with the Yankees. Here’s a look at what to expect from David Phelps and Vidal Nuno.

Phelps attended the University of Notre Dame and was drafted in the 14th round in 2008. Known for his polish rather than raw stuff, Phelps succeeds with location and wits and profiles as a back-of-the-rotation starter. His primary pitch is a high-80s fastball with sink and arm-side run that thrives down in the zone. When Phelps wants to keep batters—particularly left-handers—off his fastball he throws a mid-80s slider. He also throws a curveball and a changeup. None of the pitches register high on the wow factor, and that a healthy chunk of his strikeouts come looking instead of swinging is no surprise. Thus far in Phelps’ career he shows a typical platoon split, suggesting the Rays should load up with left-handed batters. Look for him to make a quick exit if his fastball command isn’t there Friday night.

Whereas Phelps overcame long odds to earn a MLB projection, Nuno continues his battle to earn a distinction beyond organizational player.

Originally a 48th-round pick by the Indians, Nuno washed out of their system and wound up pitching in indy ball. He found his way onto the Yankees’ farm and has overachieved at every level since. The southpaw doesn’t have good stuff. His fastball sits in the mid-to-upper-80s and he throws a variety of junk pitches, including a slow curveball, to keep batters off balance. Command and deception are keys that the chauffeurs that will drive Nuno’s career. His delivery is awkward and arm-heavy, and seems to work against his location-based approach. But he’s done a nice enough job so far keeping the ball down. It’s a good thing, too. His stuff won’t miss many, if any bats, so he’ll need to focus on minimizing the damage because he’s going to give up some hits and runs.

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