Top 10 Thunder players of the year - No. 5 (a and b)
No. 5a - David Phelps
No. 5b - Lance Pendleton
Why they're here: The two pitchers took shifts as the staff's workhorse, with Phelps handling the first half of the season, and Pendleton taking over the role until early August, when he was promoted to Triple-A Scranton.
Phelps was a perfect 6-0 with the Thunder, and, with the exception of a blow-up in New Hampshire, was solid to excellent in every start he made. Overall, he accrued a 2.o4 ERA in over 88 1/3 innings, fanning 84 against 23 walks.
Speaking of walks, I don't think I've met a pitcher who more despised issuing free passes. If he were to turn in this start, he would more than likely be beside himself.
As for Pendleton, who was expected to spend the year in the bullpen before Christian Garcia's elbow broke down, he turned into the rock-solid arm the Yankees expected when they plucked him out of Rice University.
He strung together a 10-4 mark, a 3.43 ERA, 111 strikeouts in 120 1/3 innings, and a stellar .215 batting average against before getting the call to Triple-A.
While those numbers are impressive, consider this: Pendleton allowed just six earned runs over his final 31 1/3 innings with the Thunder, and struck out 30 hitters in that span.
Outlook for 2011: For Phelps, barring a trade, he seems likely to spend most, if not all of, 2011 in Scranton. He could get a shot toward the end of the year, especially if the Yankees fail to find a long-term solution for the holes in the rotation.
For Pendleton, his career may have just gotten a second life. Stuck behind a cadre of other, more valued prospects, he was selected by Houston in the recent Rule 5 Draft. If he sticks, he'll could be the Astros' fifth starter. If not, the Yankees may let him stay.