Articles on David Phelps
as with Mike Montgomery, the tasty part is picking a role


In Spring Training this year, Fangraphs' Alex Chamberlain made Phelps one of his "Ten Fearless Predictions" or somesuch.  The prediction:  that Phelps would be a Top of Rotation (TOR) starter.  Top 60 is what he said technically; if you shuffled 60 baseball cards and dealt them out to each team, they'd get two each, so, TOR.  Phelps and Mike Montgomery were his two hunches for SP.

Dipoto gave us about 25 words on Phelps :- ) a few of which were to the subject of Phelps' versatility, that he can spot start.  


And even give you lockdowns from that #6SP role:  Here is Chamberlain's earlier January post on Phelps' 2016.  David Phelps had gone from 89.9 to 90.2 MPH on the fastball in 2013-15 way up to 93.5 MPH in the bullpen in 2016 ... but when spot-started in 2016, he held his velocity.  Not too dissimilar from what seemed to happen with Mike Montgomery.  Chamberlain gives the graphs on the sustained velo, along with the punch line:  "Phelps was essentially a 5-WAR starter in August."  He chides the Marlins for "the error of their ways" in not converting Phelps to being their best starting pitcher.

At b-ref's Game Logs you can review his August starts.  The gist,

@ COL (!)  = 4.1 IP, 0 ER with a 1:4 CTL

SFG = 5.0 IP, 1 ER with a 3:5 CTL

@ CIN = 5.1 IP, 2 ER with a 1:8 CTL

@ PIT = 6.0 IP, 0 ER with a 2:9 CTL

SDP = 3.2 IP, 3 ER with a 3:6 CTL

Giving the Marlins a bunch of strike-ball counts along the lines of 45-for-72.  Hard to see from that how Phelps walks four guys a game.  The total was 2-1, 2.22 ERA with 32:10 CTL in 24 innings.  Zeus should do so well over his next few games.  In 2017, Phelps hasn't yet started a game.  The upshot is, he seems to give you Mike Montgomery style role flipping.


Also at Fangraphs, there was this roto-style piece that predicted Phelps as the 7th-most likely setup man to take over a closer role.  They used K-BB, with GB% and HR's, hard hit contact, and xFIP for those setup men who'd been holding tough games.  There were only 25 men in both leagues with 1+ Z-scores (a measure of standard deviations from the average) and Phelps' was near three.


Pitch F/X gives him a ratio of 5 fastballs to 3 cutters and 2 power sliders.  You can meet Mr. Snappy on this fun replay.  Been a while since the Mariners had a righty Kerry Wood type two plane slider in that mold.

Here is a 94 MPH heater that finds the mitt for a called K on a lefty.

Here are several hard sidearm fastballs, most of which are up in the zone, that makes him look like a power pitcher.  I'd be careful about pegging him as an overwhelming guy; his extension is below average and it effectively takes a foot off his fastball which is 92-95 to start with. 


Dr's R/X - Level 101 Scan

Does not look at first blush like a David Robertson, Mark Melancon type super impact add to the pen.  Unless, that is, you start with the price JeDi paid ... :- )

But as we know, some of the most valuable pieces in a championship run come from "Raising the Floor."  The comparison to a right handed Mike Montgomery shows up everywhere you turn.  Montgomery came to be a nearly-beloved piece in Seattle, very painful to part with, because of the big contributions out of lower-leverage situations.  You'd be down 4-2 in the fifth, he'd come in and blow people away for three innings, and next thing you know you'd have stolen a win.

This year, however, Phelps has gone more than one inning only five times as the Marlins deployed him in the 8th inning.  He has been solid to better than average against LHP too, but the power slider makes him a great choice for 7ths or 8ths that see 2 righties coming up the first 3 hitters:

√ .172/.223/.241 = 2016 vs right

√ .225/.326/.313 = 2017 vs right

You assume that Phelps will be in the mix early, in lower-leverage situations, to see how fast he builds trust.  Relievers' roles tend to shake out based on big outs and big holds.


Dr D




I don't... look Marco has some talent (he wasn't #1 on the STL prospect rankings two and a half seasons ago for no reason) but he's been a walking injury factory for 2 years. He's now back to being somewhat similar to Andrew Moore with a lot less durability. I know the Cards had some discussions about bullpenning him to try to keep him healthy, but he's a buy-low candidate that we just cashed in our biggest available chip for.  O'Neill has been destroying pitches for a month, slugging .700+, and we traded him for a lefty who will probably be a pen arm in 24 months?

He only throws about 90 MPH and relies on location and changing speeds to be effective with his 5 pitches (like I said, think Andrew Moore except Moore has a hotter FB). With no endurance (he's thrown more than 80 innings in a season just once, and is at 74 this year) I don't know what Seattle is expecting.  They're apparently sending him to AAA to hang out with our other not-good-enough-for-the-bigs pitchers and await his callup as a #6 starter.

Gonzales is local (Gonzaga grad, lives in Seattle).  Maybe the Ms know something that can help him resume MOR form. But look: we traded Zack Littell for Pazos, and Littell is better than Gonzales IMO.  We tradedd Gohara+stuff for a busted Smyly, and Gohara is way better than Gonzales.  So in order to patch that hole we tossed one of maybe two power bats in the system (depending on Kyle Lewis's healing) for a busted starter with very little assumed value and possible position change on the horizon.

Again I'm going to call, "bad return on trade value." Dipoto might not care right now, but the Mariners will soon. Here's hoping the Ms know something about Marco (or O'Neill) that makes this make a lot more sense soon, because right now I just see it destroying Seattle's ability to make a serious addition either now or in the offseason. Losing O'Neill negates most of your trade packages for top-flight talent.

I don't think Gonzales is that talent, and he would rank below O'Neill in both upside and expected contribution for me.  Still trying to wrap my head around it. 


Marco Gonzalez does not excite me at all...he doesn't have swing/miss stuff at this point...he's a groveler...with insufficient command to make that a high-probability play for success, to say nothing of his durability concerns.

I was so hoping we would get something a little more bankable in the short term for O'Neill, even though I think O'Neill is a joke who'll hit .220 in the big leagues.


I don't have a problem moving that ton of potential with several potentially fatal flaws for the right return.

But you just traded a guy with George Springer upside who was in AAA for an injury-prone guy with Jason Vargas upside who is also in AAA.

That's idiotic.


Marco Gonzales will report to Tacoma. Trade for O'Neill was move from position of strength (young OF) for long-term shortcoming (pitching).


That's just dumb.  There's no real problem swapping hitting for pitching, but pitching is riskier so plus hitters have more intrinsic value as prospects.  If two pitchers are equally rated, the hitter should get more return.  Now, O'Neill is a risky type of hitter but Gonzales has ripped his chest and blown out his arm already.  He's one step from being Danny Hultzen and you're telling me you couldn't get him for anything less than O'Neill?

And let's not forget the reason Seattle doesn't HAVE starting pitching prospects is because they traded them away or bullpenned them. So now to make up for the fact that Seattle traded every top-10 arm they had in the minors except two (Neidert and Moore) they just beheaded their most-ready top hitting prospect with 70 power who is playing 3 years above his age level in order to add a potential #5 starter, or maybe middle reliever?



The way they measure velo now adds 1-1.5 MPH to your reading because they're taking the measurement out of the hand rather than later in flight.  He's throwing his curve and changeup harder, which is fine for getting different action on those pitches, and according to that article (thanks) he's ditched his other two pitches.  His fastball is exactly the same, however. I'm sure Dipoto DOES see more upside, but he didn't have to pay full freight for the upside only he sees. If you see a nice china set in a pawn shop you don't tell them how great it is and agree to pay more for it because only you know its true value.

Marco was a bad bargain.  I hope he works out anyway, and that he can stay healthy and contribute more than Gallardo or Overtonm but it's a stupid deal for a player who was going to be moved to free up a 40-man spot by next year on a farm with a ton of pitching depth. 

Seattle needs him to ride into the bigs with immediate success. Fingers crossed.


They are upside-lovers, but they don't have Marco listed in the top-10 for STL at all (because he's not). MLBPipeline just installed O'Neill as the Cardinals' #4 prospect, though, while Marco comes in at #7 for us (those lists don't include this year's draft picks, just evaluations of prospects already in the minors in Spring 2017).

So the Ms traded back and lost value because they have no pitchers, but didn't get an upside pitcher either. I think O'Neill's road to ultimate success in the bigs is dicey, but not any dicier than Marco's! Dipoto's penchant for saying, "that guy, whatever the cost" is going to hurt the Mariners long-term, because it removes trade chips that could have been used in other deals. Even if Marco works out, O'Neill was an overpay. He can't keep overpaying for everyone who wasn't originally a D-Back.


We all figured we'd get something more tasty than this for O'Neill. Everything you say, G-man, I gotta believe DiPoto knows and more. So, I'm just trying to figure out what it is. 

I can't argue with your logic, G-man, and if what you say about velocity gauging is correct, then I've got nothing, except that he's pretty much leading the PCL in ERA so he's pretty good at getting guys like O'Neill out. We know that pitchers get promoted quicker than position players so he's not exactly the top of a great class. Still, a 2.90 ERA for a starter in a hitters league seems pretty good. He definitely improved over 2015. I gotta assume our scouts watched him, had the gun out, saw his stuff, makeup, etc. and liked what they saw. 

BTW, it seems he recovered pretty quickly from TJ surgery. He was out all last year and it seems like he's back and better than when he left, so that's good. Maybe for a young pitcher, being post TJ adds points to one's value going forward? Offsets the position-player-a-better-bet-than-a-pitcher rule of thumb a bit, perhaps?


He's getting lucky right now, but maybe some of that is due to his insane popup out %. He beats FIP a lot, so his ability to induce soft contact is crucial.  If that holds up in the bigs... he can be a #4 like I expect Moore to be.  He's a changeup artist looking to keep his ERA around 4 in the bigs. That'd be fine if we traded Taylor Motter for him, but that wasn't the deal.

And if he CAN'T get those popup rates in the bigs, I expect him to get hammered.  His control is not as good as Moore's, and we don't even know if Moore's is good enough.  The hope is that Gonzales can use his changeup like Kuma uses his forkball. We're trying to get another Iwakuma.

Iwakumas that don't work turn out to be poor investments, though. I hope this one pays off, and as soon as this week.


But Moore was right ahead of him in AAA at 4.29. It appears Gonzales induces more groundball outs. Less balls in the air over the long haul should result in less damage on the scoreboard. If he can keep his K and BB rates at decent (better than Gallardo) levels this could be nice. LH always a bonus.


Looks like Gonzales just needed to get healthy and have another go leaping to effective MLB pitcher, kinda like Clevinger has just done for Cleveland. Love the nice WHIP for Gonzales over several stops in 2014. Then probably pitching hurt in 2015. Now WHIP is well back in line at AAA.

I'd give Gonzales much better odds at making the leap to quality MLB regular than O'Neill (those K's are a serious dealbreaker). Maybe we could have squeezed for more, but how many teams have extra quality SP lying around in AAA to trade away?


have been unable to get to the keyboard and won't be able for another half day or day.

Mega kudos to Zoom for grokking the *direction* and concept of Dipoto's thoughts.

keep it comin' 100 MPH Gordon - my first reaction was down the same bowling groove as the one you are articulating -  and will also appreciate any Denizen chiming in from other angle.

see y' soon, jemanji mobile :- )


Pretty brutal to see the level of vitriol you guys are launching at this trade. As someone who had no idea who Gonzales was before this morning, I trust G and Matt implicitly. Looks like a bad trade, no doubt about it.

Some thoughts, in the interest of kicking the can down the road a bit:

-As Doc is fond of saying, either the GM is an idiot, literally less smart than us, or he knows something we don't. This is the first trade that Jerry has made that seemed braindead to me, so I'm hoping whatever his inside information is, it's really solid. Cuz this looks reeeal bad from the outside.

-Probably my least favorite part of the trade is that, even if Jerry was convinced Tank had "trouble with the curve" and was doomed, that doesn't mean you sell low on him. His value has basically peaked now, and there should have been someone who thought he really was a #3 org prospect, 40% chance at a MOTO hitter. Find that GM, and sell to HIM. Jerry's insistence on getting "his guy" appears to have caused him to trade down, as G said elsewhere.

-Maybe the template really is left-handed Andrew Moore? I hear he has a good change-up, we can infer he was good pitchability (why else would Jerry want him?), and since he's left-handed it's okay that his FB is a couple ticks below Moore's. And even if he's Jason Vargas, there's nothing wrong with being Jason Vargas. Six cheap years of a durable league-average starter is quite valuable, in a distinctly boring kind of way. Jason's got 3.5 WAR and an All-Star game this year, so there's upside in the template... yeah okay, I'm not really buying that either.

So I guess, file this one under "He'd better be right." It's not like this trade can't work. Tank just needs to flame out, and Marco needs to settle somewhere in between Moore and Vargas, fairly quickly. If that happens, hey, we've raised the floor a good deal above Bergman.

What hurts the most is this this appears to preclude any deal for a TOR. I liked the Phelps deal specifically because it kept the powder (see, Tank) dry. So much for that. I hope Felix and Gallardo are the rotation upgrades we needed... sigh...


While I may be overstating it for some, I do not think many here think Marco is worthless. In fact, I'll bet several here think Marco should be able to pitch at the MLB level for at least 5 years, and probably longer...... IF and when he is healthy. That said, IF Marco stays healthy, there is a 50/50 that the M's actually end up with getting the better end of this deal here.

As you so aptly put though, as well as others before you, Tank was worth more to the M's in a different deal rather than this one... a deal that actually excited the guys in the locker room, and that led to a 10 game winning streak. One would think that as an ex-player, Dipoto would understand the difference... unless Dipoto has other moves up his sleeve that Marco is a part of... then Dipoto will have surprised all of us once again.

Go ahead Jerry... I dare you to surprise us now!!!

RockiesJeff's picture

Here I had hoped that the M's traded for Ken Phelps again. Show my age!!!

And be nice....Gonzales is from the Rocky Mountains here in CO. If he can't pitch, as a Zag, could he give some help to the Huskies on the court?

Serriously, this kind of ends up like my investments. Lots of movement but little to show. So, at the end of the day, would you rather have Montgomery and O'Neill or Vogelbach and Gonzales?????




Is that another market inefficiency DiP is trying to manipulate?

Hanjag's picture

JeDI got fleeced Marco G was the Card's 9th best pitching prospect and 18th overall. had his overall prospect points as a 45 5 ess than Moore 10 less than Gohara. What makes it worse is that the Card's had another 9 with that same score of 45. Chase DeJong has a 45 point sscore on the same scale. 


Tank rated a 55 overall on the prospect scale and has hit what 14 bombs in his last 20 something games.

April - March .599 OPS

May .727

June .863

July 1.125


Dip is clearly trying to play money ball with pitch-ability guys. Guys with below average to average fb and one above average other. Overton was the Curve, Marco has a + change. 


There is slim to non on the likelyhood for sustained positive performance. He needs to display Maddoc-Moyer level command and control and to curry favor with the umps. 


I have done 5 games in a row going to brooks baseball and looking at unbexplainable strikes ball won lost with the opposition and hint it ain't in the M's favor. To Quot Mrs. Rocky Balboa, "You can't win Rocky, You can't win!'".


My .02$

The Other Billy Zoom's picture

I did not think the Cardinals would offer him in trade.

And, if their other early phenom Reyes wasn't on the injury list, I doubt they would have.

Two things seem to be happening in St. Louis:  (1) Fans are becoming upset as Cards winning the division and going to the World Series has been a given, and this year the perception is they have given up, and that has steamrolled; (2) Bossman Mozeliak, always highly regarded for player personnel, has assailed the team and said the attitude and culture of the team have to be "shored up".

Barely in third place in their division, they are not going to get a wild card.  They will have to get past the Brewers and Cubs and stay ahead of Pittsburgh.

St Louis has steadfastly refused to give up their young talent in the past, year after year after year.  They have built an incredible stable of  talent on the mound. with a plethora of potential of RH starters.

They are pretty sensational at drafting and developing, and Gonzales was good enough to get in the series against the Dodgers the year he was called up, and that is quite a feather.

Yes, he got dinged up, but being out then invisible in Memphis did not win him a high ranking on their top prospect list.

I was up for any of four of their "top 10" prospects, but, the M's would have had to give up one of their 4 CF's to get them.

I had hope at one point chucking Gonzales into that group ... but his Memphis information said that possibility had shrunk to long distance.

It is my belief that DePoet probably went after Flaherty, Weaver, Hudson or Pearce, but the stingy Cards, who needed an OF set a price in line with an inflated sellers market which is not going to come down for awhile, especially with all the teams with a WC possibility ... I'm guessing the Cards wanted a couple other decent prospects of which the M's are indecently exposed.

The fact that whenever they did deal at the deadline in the past, it was almost always on the last two days before the deadline.

This year, they couldn't take a chance on falling farther behind and are not keen on rentals.

Their starting mound lineup is not inept, especially with Wainwright coming around and Lynn shoring up.

But they had to make up their mind if they were in it or not, and the two factors mentioned above offered at least a bandage that they were doing something, and O'Neill was that something.

Could the M's have gotten any of their top four including Alcantara or Hudson for O'Neill?  I think DePoet might have tried, but was rebuffed.

I do not think Gonzales has ever had a chance to really show why he was selected by them number one overall and boosted to a starter's role in his vigin big league year.

And I do not think that any of us have a better idea than DePoet and his staff of what his potential might be.

While he may not become an ace, I can see him as a solid number two in two years.

And I suspect they will move him up to the 40 man in the near future ... after maybe 3 games in Tacoma, and into a 4 or 5 starter.

Just  where are all of you finding a TOR guy?

You wanna pay a zillion for Gray?  The Braves and Yankees and more are already willing to do that ... and they've got the legions of prospects to offer the Orc's.

This off-season one of our three main CF's (and Dyson, if they extend him now) will be swapped for a #3 or better.

Or management will to all in and sign Otani.

In two years, you are going to be sucking stats out from between your teeth, and smiling, at yesterday's  trade.



Marco Gonzales looks a lot like Alex Wood, in wind up, in fastball velocity and movement, with best pitch change-ups that also move similarly (though Gonzales' is slower) and are used similar percentage (~25%), and 3rd pitch curve balls, though Wood certainly uses his more often, it seems to be agreed that Gonzales' is an actual tool more than a show-me curve ball.  Maybe Dipoto sees something of a similar break out opportunity?  Similar to O'Neill, Gonzales seemst o have found himself in the last 6 weeks or so, where he's run a 7.8 K/9, 1.9 BB/9, 0.5 HR/9, and a 2.61 ERA since June 18 when he returned to the minors after an unfortunate spot start.

O'Neill was still scuffling a lot at home and against RHP with a 30% Ks  and a ~.200 ISO in either situation.  Right now, he's not much different from Eric Thames circa 2012, which the Mariners netted for Steve Delabar.  

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