Friday, June 12, 2015

Injured Yankees pitcher Nova might have a new weapon

Injured Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova might have found a new weapon during his recent rehab start in Tampa.

"I was throwing changeups like I'm a changeup person," Nova told The LoHud Yankees Blog. "I threw like 15, and I don't remember the last time I threw 15 changeups in 72 pitches or something like that."

Nova's arsenal has primarily consisted of a fastball, a curveball and a sinker since joining the Yankees -- though adding the change to it could bring some benefits. 

Fellow Yankee Michael Pineda, for example, only went off-speed six percent of the time in 2011 before raising that number to 14 percent this season -- an adjustment that has resulted in a weak opposing batting average of .272. That's 100 points lower than Nova's was last year, when his changeup usage was just four percent.

Indeed, history has shown that increased reliance on the pitch can lead to better statistics -- even if Nova doesn't want to throw it often.

"When I have (good) stretches, my fastball was working fine, working down in the zone. Sometimes in those moments, (though), I have to go two sinkers or two curveballs because I don't have the confidence to throw the changeup even in the good moments," Nova said. "You can put it two different ways: What would happen if I have that changeup every game? Do you think it would (make for) better moments, or you think it would be a bad moment?"

For the Yankees, the answer to that question is important. Nova has struggled to stay consistent in his career, but if he's not sure he can be effective with the changeup, it probably wouldn't be smart to risk failure.

Then again, Nova still has a start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre scheduled for Saturday -- so the team should get a good look at its progress soon.

"(If) you know that changeup's going to be good against, say, a left-handed batter (who's) not too good against a changeup," Nova said. "If you know that, and you're feeling good, and you're feeling that pitch, why not (use it)?"

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