David Phelps has never once opened a major league season in the starting rotation, be it with the Yankees or Marlins.
But, out of need, he’s always ended up in one. This year is no different.
Phelps, who has spent the entire season working out of the Marlins bullpen, will move into the rotation beginning Friday in Colorado.
“We’re here to get to the playoffs and win the World Series,” Phelps said. “So it’s kind of all hands on deck at this point.”
The Marlins turned to Phelps after losing starters Wei-Yin Chen and Colin Rea to arm injuries, and watching minor-league call-ups Justin Nicolino and Jose Urena experience their ups and downs.
“It’s a little different this year,” Phelps said of making the bullpen-to-rotation switch. “Usually it’s April or May. This time it’s August.”
“’I’m going to do whatever I can to help this team get to the playoffs,” he said.
Mattingly said he first approached Phelps about the possibility when Chen landed on the disabled list last month. The Marlins thought they had the problem licked a week ago when they traded for Rea and fellow starter Andrew Cashner.
But Rea injured his arm Saturday while making his Marlins debut, landed on the DL, and was traded back to the Padres.
“We’ve had some unfortunate circumstances here,” Phelps said.
The major question was the amount of time it would take to build up the necessary arm strength in Phelps, allowing him to go from throwing in one-inning spurts to multi-inning stints.
Mattingly said that when the idea was first broached, the thought was Phelps would need to spend time in the minors, steadily increasing pitch counts with each successive outing -- much like spring training.
But Phelps threw 55 pitches after he took over for Rea on Saturday, and Mattingly believes he could throw as many as 70 pitches on Friday at Coors Field.
“He’s done it before,” Mattingly said. “Innings-wise, we feel like we’re in a comfortable spot. He hasn’t had any issues with his arm. So everything this year during the course of the season has said he’s capable of doing it.”
Phelps went 4-8 with a 4.39 ERA in 19 starts last season for the Marlins. But he lost his last five decisions and ended the season on the DL with a stress fracture in his right arm.
Overall, Phelps has made 59 career starts in the majors, going 16-19 with a 4.36 ERA.
“Fortunately, I have a lot of flexibility in what I can do, if it’s throwing one inning or if it’s throwing as many innings as I can,” Phelps said.
Phelps has thrown with increased velocity in his relief outings this season. But his approach could change as he shifts back into a starting role. Mattingly said he expects Phelps to use a larger arsenal of pitches.
“I think you’ll see him more as he looked as a starter,” Mattingly said. “He’ll use more pitches. I think you’ll see more of his curveball. You’ll see his change-up come out. More of a four-pitch mix than a two-pitch mix.
First baseman Justin Bour could rejoin the Marlins on Friday.
But that all hinges on how his injured ankle responds in a pair of minor-league rehab games Tuesday and Wednesday.
“(Bour is) going to play the next two days,” Mattingly said. “If we’re good, we’ll probably bring him to Colorado on the off day (Thursday).”
▪ Wednesday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (8-8, 4.18) at Chicago Cubs RHP John Lackey (8-7, 3.69), 2:20 p.m., Wrigley Field.
▪ Thursday: Off day