Monday, June 24, 2013

Nova Good and Bad in Return to Majors

In his first start back with the Yankees since April 26th, Ivan Nova pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowed three earned runs on seven hits and struck out seven.

Two of the earned runs were not entirely Nova's fault, as he was pulled in the seventh inning after hitting two batters. Shawn Kelley came in and walked Evan Longoria on five pitches and then Boone Logan gave up a single to James Loney on a 1-2 count that drove home two.

Nova did some really good things and some not so good things yesterday, which is the case with him a lot of times. Nova allowed 12 base runners in 6.2 innings, which is entirely too many. He was fortunate get huge double play grounders in the first and sixth innings. However, Nova did not allow an extra base hit in the game, which probably means that some of the hits he gave up were unlucky, since he did not allow a ton of hard contact. Also, hitting Ben Zobrist on the foot with a curve intended to be in the dirt on an 0-2 count was pretty unlucky as well.  Extra base hits were what was really hurting Nova last year and in April this year.

Nova threw an incredible 50 curve balls and only 35 four-seam fastballs. He did not throw the slider yesterday that he added to his repertoire last year. He dominated with his curve, as he threw it for 32 strikes, including eight swinging. However, he will not be able to really on the curve that much every game. Nova will have to have better command of his fastball to reach his full potential. Nova has good velocity on his fastball (94.40 MPH this season), but bad location in and out of the zone has been a big problem for him.

This was probably just a spot start for Nova, although he said he thought he pitched well enough to stay in the rotation, but Joe Girardi made no such commitment. He will likely be sent down to Triple- A today to make room for another bench player. However, the best thing for the Yankees long term would be to keep Nova in the major league rotation, move Phil Hughes to the bullpen and move Joba Chamberlain to another team.

Nova is one of the few Yankees pitchers under contract for next season and is under team control through 2016. At 26, with those three more years of team control, and some good talent Nova is a commodity for the Yankees. They need to find out more about him this season so they can have a better idea of what he is going forward. Hughes has been terrible, so Nova is unlikely to do much worse right now than Hughes would. Nova could be apart of the Yankees rotation next year or be an asset in a trade while Hughes will almost certainly be on another roster next season.

So far in his Yankees career Nova has been an inconsistent back of the rotation performer. However, he still has talent and has only two full seasons under his belt. He should not be given up on yet. It would be in the Yankees' best interest to find out more about Nova this season because he can be much more valuable than Hughes in the future.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)