The 27-year-old right-hander from Florissant, Mo., will fulfill a dream on Tuesday, when he makes his first career start against the Cardinals, the team he grew up admiring. It wasn't so long ago that Phelps listened and cheered as Albert Pujols hit a home run off Brad Lidge during the 2005 National League Championship Series in Houston.
"I remember being in the car listening to it and going nuts," Phelps said. "Going to games [at old Busch] with my parents growing up was something that really helped raise my appreciation for baseball."
Phelps attended five or six games each season at the first Busch Stadium. His third trip to the new ballpark will put him on the field for the first time, and on the other side.
"You grow up thinking about playing on this field," Phelps said from the visitors' locker room on Monday. "Obviously, you don't think about doing it in a Yankees' uniform, but it's really cool. You walk out and you see the Arch. There's small things like that that do make it fun."
Phelps was inserted into the Yankees' rotation on May 5 in place of the injured Michael Pineda. In four starts (22 1/3 innings) he has posted a 2.82 ERA .
His fifth start will come with the entirely new challenge of controlling his emotions. He will have his own fan club in attendance, as approximately 25 friends and family members will make their way to the ballpark to watch him pitch.
He's already talked to them about their allegiance.
"I told them, even when I come out of the game, you still have to root for the Yankees," he said. "A lot of my friends are like, 'I'm a Yankees fan for the six, seven innings you're in there, and then I stop.' I said, 'No, you can't do that.'"
Phelps made his first start in the Majors in Kansas City in 2012. The short commute allowed for a large contingent of family and friends then, too. In that start, he said, emotions got the best of him, and he allowed two runs in four innings.
That's why he plans to treat Tuesday like any other start, as hard as that might be.
"There's a lot of emotions that go into it," he said. "Driving in to the stadium today, I couldn't help but smile. At the end of the day, if you try and make too much of it, it's going to get the best of you. You have to go out and stick to your routine."