The New York Yankees had hoped to have ace left-hander CC Sabathia on the hill Monday when they kick off a four-game series against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium.
However, those plans changed when Sabathia, much to his chagrin, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with a sore left elbow. An MRI came back clean and Sabathia plans on making his start when he is eligible to return on Aug. 24.
"I know there's nothing structurally wrong with my arm," Sabathia said. "Everybody pitches with a little pain."
So instead of the former Cy Young Award winner on the hill tonight when the two best teams in the American League square off, New York will rely on rookie David Phelps.
Phelps has primarily been used as a reliever this season, but was a starter his entire minor league career, and has made three starts in 2012. He is 2-3 on the season with a 2.42 ERA.
"Hopefully go out there and learn from what I did last time and give us a chance to win," said Phelps, when asked what his plan against Texas was. "It's a huge series."
Phelps will need to be better than Phil Hughes was on Sunday, as the right- hander was tagged for seven runs in only four innings in the Yankees', 10-7, loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Derek Jeter collected three hits and knocked in two runs, and Robinson Cano added a two-run homer for New York, which had won four in a row and still leads the AL East by five games.
Texas, meanwhile, took two of three from the Detroit Tigers over the weekend. In Sunday's rubber match, Josh Hamilton hit a two-run homer and added an RBI single to help the Rangers to an 8-3 victory.
Ian Kinsler had an RBI double during the frame and later added a sacrifice fly for the Rangers, who have won eight of 11 games and improved to 13-3-2 in their last 17 series.
Yu Darvish (12-8) allowed three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out eight, walked five and tied the Rangers rookie record for wins.
"He pounded the strike zone, threw the ball over the plate and threw the pitches he wanted to throw," Rangers manager Ron Washington said about Darvish.
At 67-46 the Rangers own the best mark in the AL, a half-game better than New York. Texas is also 6 1/2 games in front of the Oakland Athletics in the AL West.
Getting the call for the Rangers tonight will be righty Ryan Dempster, who bounced back nicely after a rough debut with Texas. Dempster was hit hard for eight runs in 4 2/3 innings in a no decision against the Los Angeles Angels in his first start for the Rangers, but he beat the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday, holding them to three unearned runs in 6 2/3 frames.
"Whether it's the start of the season or you're getting traded to a new team, getting that first win out of the way is that monkey off your back, especially after that first outing when I didn't throw the ball like I wanted to," he said. "Being able to go out and get a 'W' was really nice. Hopefully I'll be able to build off that."
He's faced the Yankees four times and is 0-3 against them with a 6.45 ERA.
The Rangers took two of three from the Yankees earlier in the year.