I and everybody else in the Yankees blogosphere have written plenty this season about Ivan Nova’s struggles. Everybody knows the reasons at this point. He can’t locate any of his pitches consistently, he is not getting back to trying to get ground balls as opposed to strikeouts, and his attitude at times has been in question. Nova has been by far the worst Yankees starter this season and has been consistently miserable besides in the month of June. Nova now owns a 4.92 ERA and continues to lead MLB in extra-base hits allowed after yesterdays latest disaster in Chicago. The question at this point is what can the Yankees do? With the division lead down to four games they need to be more proactive.
Mercifully, CC Sabathia is scheduled to return on Friday, which should help bring better consistency back to the rotation. What might seem obvious to everybody is to insert David Phelps into the rotation for Nova. Phelps has been great this year in any role the Yankees have asked him to play, as he has a 2.69 ERA. However, the problem with inserting Phelps into the rotation is that Nova is unlikely to help you in the bullpen, and the Yankees really need help there as well. With Joba Chamberlian’s struggles the Yankees have nobody in their pen they can really count on outside of David Robertson and Rafael Soriano. Boone Logan has a 7.43 ERA for almost two months now, Cody Eppley has 5.40 ERA in August, and Derek Lowe probably came back down to earth in his last outing. The bullpen has had two major implosions over the last two weeks to cost the Yankees wins.
Sabathia coming back on Friday combined with tomorrow’s off day gives the Yankees a chance to skip Nova’s turn and let Phelps make another start. They could even skip him twice with an off day next week if they felt he needed more tutoring. They could then return Phelps to the bullpen for the stretch run where he will be needed, especially for the postseason. A playoff rotation of Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Phil Hughes is very solid. Phelps would be of much better use in the bullpen, as he could get high leverage outs later in games or come on early in the game if a starting pitcher struggles. But for now it makes sense for Phelps to stay in the rotation for another turn or two while they try to fix Nova.