Daily Archives: August 8, 2012
Ivan Nova has been one of the biggest disappointments on the Yankees this season. Nova finished 2010 16-4 ,with a 3.70 ERA and the Yankees were looking forward to a home-grown pitcher possibly becoming a #2 starter for them. Some of these expectations were unreasonable for this season, but Nova has completely imploded to the point where you have a lot more questions than answers moving forward.
Nova is 10-6 on the season, with a 4.81 ERA and leads MLB with 71 extra base hits allowed. Nova is only 15 extra base hits given up away from Andy Hawkins’ 1989 franchise record. My biggest concern about Nova coming into this season that he had gotten a little bit lucky last season. His FIP was 4.36 compared to his 3.70 ERA. A pitcher who only has 5.57 K/9 compared to 3.64 BB/9 generally does not have the success that Nova had. However, this season Nova has turned that around completely by having 8.07 K/9 and 2.80 BB/9, yet has been awful.
What we have figured out about Nova this year is that less is more. Nova has actually been throwing harder and has better stuff last year, but has been brutal. Nova’s bread and butter last year was inducing ground balls off his sinking fastball. This year his GB% is down to 46.4% from 52.7% last year. Nova is also throwing his slider and curveball about 4% more each and his fastball % is down 54.1% from 61.5% last season. Throwing more curves and sliders has allowed Nova to get more strikeouts, but when he misses with those pitches, especially his slider, he gets tattooed. Nova’s walks are down this year but he has been very wild in the zone, which has caused him to give up all th extra base hits that he has.
Nova has got to get his fastball back down in the zone where he can induce more ground balls. He cannot live up in the zone like Phil Hughes can because he does not have the deceptive delivery that Hughes does and it even gets Hughes in trouble at times. Nova is still young and has the tools to be a solid #3 starter in the future. He seems to have maturity issues that he needs to overcome as well. In many ways his season this year has resembled AJ Burnett in his Yankee seasons. While Burnett walked more people than Nova has, he gave up the extra base hits that Nova, was wild in the zone, and had some maturity issues. One thing Nova can learn from Burnett was how he took the heat after every loss. As bad as Burnett was he deserves credit for taking responsibility and the blame. That was something Nova refused to do after his embarrassing start against the Orioles last week.
There is not much the Yankees can do with Nova at this juncture. Their only viable replacement is David Phelps and he is not stretched out to be a starter. The Yankees will probably have to ride Nova out and if he continues to pitch like this it will be very hard to keep winning streaks. It is may be more important for the Yankees to get Nova right for the long term rather than the short term. Between CC Sabathia, hopefully Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, and Phil Hughes the Yankees have enough pitching to win in the playoffs without Nova. Nova is a big part of the developing young and cheap pitchers plan this year. Between his and Dellin Betances’ struggles and injuries to Michael Pineda, Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos that plan has gone awful this year.