In Ivan Nova‘s last start, he was rocked for seven runs and ten hits and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. In his first start of the year, Nova issued five walks to Houston Astros’ hitters. Nova has not been sharp in the early going in 2014; he has surrendered 16 hits while punching out only four hitters in his first two starts. He will look to rebound against the Red Sox on the ESPN Sunday Night game.
Nova’s third start of the year will likely have an October feel as he pitches in a nationally televised game against the defending World Champion and arch-rival Boston Red Sox. The Yankees have won two of the first three games of this early season series and look to send a statement by taking the final game of the series. The Red Sox will be looking for a split. Over the course of the long 162-game season, the winner of an early April series generally seems inconsequential. However, a win in April counts just as much in the standings as a win in September. In addition, the Yankees want to set the tone for 2014 and show that it will be different from 2013, when the Red Sox won the season series en route to the AL East crown and eventually the World Series.
Nova needs to step up Sunday night and continue to grow into the middle-of-the-rotation starter that he has shown he is capable of being. Ever since winning sixteen games in 2010, Nova has shown flashes of brilliance that might lead one to think he would develop into a top-of-the-rotation starter. The frustrating part of watching Ivan Nova, is the fact that he mixes in way too many poor starts with his good ones, leading one to believe he was destined to return to the minors. Nova needs to find more consistency with his outings and he needs to get on the right path starting with the game versus the Red Sox. He has been as inconsistent against the Red Sox as he has been against the rest of the American League compiling a 2-3 record with a 5.50 ERA.
Nova had a good spring training, pitching to a 2-1 record with 21 strikeouts in 19.2 innings of work. However, it has not carried over into the regular season. Nova needs to forget his first two starts and restart his season on Sunday against Boston. If he can provide a solid start for the Yankees and then put together a few good starts in a row, it will go a long way toward increasing the Yankees chances of playing in October. While major questions surrounding the infield and bullpen remain, this Yankees’ team will only go as far as their starting pitching takes them, and Ivan Nova, for better or worse, is a big part of the Yankees’ rotation in 2014.