After starting off last season in absolutely dreadful fashion, finishing the month of April with a win-loss record of 1-1, and an ERA of 6.28, and eventually being demoted to the minors, Yankees’ pitcher Ivan Nova, suddenly made a dramatic comeback. After being called back up to the majors nearly a month after he was sent down, Nova returned a new pitcher.
On July 5, 2013, he pitched his first career complete game in a 3–2 win against the Orioles, in what would be the first of three complete games he would end up throwing, good for third in the American League. Again facing the Orioles on August 31, Nova pitched his first career shutout. Nova was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for August 2013, in which he recorded a 4–0 record and a 2.08 ERA.
From July 5 through August 31, Nova made seven consecutive starts in which he pitched at least seven innings and allowed three or fewer runs. Nova compiled a 7–5 record and a 2.70 ERA in 17 games, 16 of them starts, after being recalled from the minor leagues. His final 2013 record was 9–6 with a 3.10 ERA in 23 games pitched, 20 of them starts.
In four seasons with the Yankees, Nova has compiled a record of 38-20, with a 4.04 ERA. It’s no secret, the Yankees are counting on Nova to be a big part of their starting rotation in 2014. The key to Nova’s success when he returned from the minors last season, was the improved control of his two-seam fastball. In addition to the two-seamer, Nova throws a barrage of pitches that includes a curve, four-seamer, changeup, and a slider. There’s no doubt, it’s his command of those multiple pitches, plus movement that is his ticket to success.
While Nova has been known to be inconsistent, going through many hot and cold stretches, with the Yankees’ hopes of possibly plugging him into the number three spot in the rotation to separate pitchers Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka (who both throw split finger fastballs), Nova is going to have to be more consistent than ever. The Yankees also have been known to come out on the winning end of many games when Nova pitches well.
If Nova can consistently have his pitches working for him, not only would it help answer some of the Yankees’ questions for the future of their starting rotation (seeing as Nova is only 27 years of age), but it could also mean the difference between an 85 win and a 100 win season.
So while you may hear the names CC Sabathia, and Masahiro Tanaka mentioned more often, make no mistake, Ivan Nova is just as important a piece to this puzzle, and will surely help to either make or brake the 2014 season for the Yankees.