Joe Girardi’s lineup card has quite the interesting wrinkle for their interleague battle against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night.
Batting eighth… and pitching… No. 41, David Phelps. Phelps. No. 41.
Yes, I still miss Bob Sheppard's voice. And yes, it's one-hundred percent true the Yankees skipper has elected to hit his pitcher, David Phelps, eighth, with backup catcher Austin Romine having the dubious distinction of batting ninth.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t exactly unusual strategy being utilized by Girardi. Former St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa used to do it fairly regularly to mostly inconsequential results. But it's notable because, well, it's the Yankees, and also because it isn't frequently done by American League teams during interleague play.
In fact, the last time an AL team hit the pitcher eighth was 2009 when the Kansas City Royals did it with Zack Greinke. Considering Greinke's athletic ability and three career home runs — two coming since his move to the National League — he's exactly the type of pitcher you can envision hitting eighth.
David Phelps, on the other hand, is not.
In six seasons at the professional level, Phelps has never once stepped into a batter's box in the minors or major leagues. Not once. His first career plate appearance (assuming he survives long enough) will come Wednesday night at Coors Field, so it's not as if Girardi is basing this strategy off Phelps' track record as a hitter.
He's also not padding the top of his lineup with a second lead-off type hitter (such as Brett Gardner, who actually is leading off) as is often the strategy when a pitcher bats eighth. That's also a common strategy in many American League lineups.
Honestly, at first thought, Girardi's strategy feels just as much random as it does unconventional (and perhaps misguided), but WFAN's Sweeny Murti has at least one possible theory.
Possible explanation for batting Phelps 8th: can PH Hafner/Boesch for P and not stack LH bats (Gardner 1, Cano 2).
— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) May 8, 2013
As has been pointed out by many on Twitter, a .280/.334/.414 hitter over seven minor league seasons such as Romine won't exactly motivate a manager to burn through his bullpen quicker, but this is about as good an explanation as one can come up with without hearing from Girardi himself.
Needless to say, that will be one interesting postgame presser in the visiting clubhouse.