By The Numbers: Yankees' First Major League Starts
Phelps, who threw three scoreless innings against Detroit in relief of Garcia on Saturday, will be making his first Major League start in just his seventh career appearance and joins a rotation that includes a multiple-time 20-game winner, a veteran of baseball on two continents, and a youngster who has won 15 consecutive regular-season decisions.
We won’t know how he fares until late Thursday night, of course, but we can look back and see how a handful of Yankees (both past and present) performed in their first start in the Bigs.
And so, using the players’ jersey numbers as our guide, we go By The Numbers on the Yankees’ First MLB Starts.
52: CC Sabathia’s first career start came on April 8, 2001 with the Cleveland Indians. That day, the big lefty went 5 2/3 innings against the Orioles at Jacobs Field, allowing three runs on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts. He didn’t record a decision, but the Indians did win 4-3.
18: Hiroki Kuroda had more than 200 career starts in Japan under his belt when he toed an MLB rubber for the first time on April 4, 2008. That day at Petco Park, Kuroda allowed one run on three hits over seven innings (and just 77 pitches) in leading the Dodgers to a 7-1 victory over the Padres.
47: Like David Phelps, Ivan Nova made multiple relief appearances for the Yankees before making his first start. That came on August 23, 2010 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, as Nova went 5 1/3 against the Blue Jays in a 3-2 Yankees loss. Nova did not take a decision after allowing two runs on six hits in his five-plus frames.
65: April 26, 2007 saw Phil Hughes’ Major League debut, and it was a shorter one than he would’ve liked. Starting against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, he took his first MLB loss after allowing four runs in 4 1/3 innings of the Jays’ 6-0 victory. Of course, he would rebound nicely, winning his first Major League game five days later in Texas after bringing a no-hitter into the seventh inning.
36: Freddy Garcia may be struggling in April 2012, but he was phenomenal for Seattle in April 1999. In his first MLB start on April 7 of that year, The Chief allowed just two runs on seven hits over 5 2/3 innings against the White Sox en route to his first victory.
35: Although he will not start for the Yankees in 2012, Michael Pineda did make 28 for the Mariners last year. His first came on April 5, and the then-rookie righty allowed three runs on five hits over six innings to the Rangers that day as Seattle (and Pineda) took a 3-2 loss in Arlington.
46: Andy Pettitte is in Trenton preparing for a return to the Major Leagues, one that will come nearly 17 full years after he made his first start with the Yankees. On May 27, 1995, Pettitte pitched well, allowing three runs (just one earned) on seven hits against the Athletics in Oakland; unfortunately, a miscue by shortstop Randy Velarde allowed those two unearned runs to score, and A’s hurler Steve Ontiveros shut down the Bombers as Oakland won 3-0.
68: It didn’t last long, but Dellin Betances’ first MLB start came on September 28, 2011. The older of the Yankees’ “Killer B’s” got the call to begin last year’s season finale and pitched the first two innings, allowing just one hit and two walks (while striking out two) over his 44-pitch outing.
62: After electrifying the Majors as a reliever in late 2007 and early 2008, Joba Chamberlain toed the rubber on June 3, 2008 for his first Big League start. With his arm not yet fully stretched out, Joba only lasted 2 1/3 innings and 62 pitches against the Blue Jays that day, allowing two runs (only one earned) and just one hit while walking four and striking out three.
32: A fun end to this tale comes courtesy of a veteran pitcher the Yankees have in their Minor League system: Ramon Ortiz. The 39-year-old righty is currently at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but has 214 Major League starts to his credit, the most recent coming last July for the Cubs (where he wore No. 32). The first, however, came for the Angels on August 19, 1999, and Ortiz was brilliant – allowing just one run on four hits and one walk in leading the Halos to a 9-2 over the White Sox in Chicago.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES