Are the Yankees better off without Ivan Nova in September?


This season has shown us that Ivan Nova is still an immature pitcher. Now, before I get jumped by saying that, let me clarify. Nova is not a bad pitcher, but he’s not a mature pitcher either. He hasn’t developed yet into what the New York Yankees had been hoping for and his bloated ERA this season has not helped his case. In 2011 we got used to Nova going out and giving us a quality start. In 2012 he’s looked more like 2010’s version that just seems lost on the mound. While he didn’t start too many games in 2010, his experience from last year should have stuck with him into this year. Nova has not done well this season and heading into September, maybe it’s better that he landed on the disabled list for the Yankees because with the division lead slipping, the Bombers need quality. 

Consistency and Nova are two things that never really seem to mix all that well this season. He did have a span of games from June 6th to July 25th that were for the most part were very good. The rest of the season however has just been flat out bad. Whether it’s an issue of confidence or if his injury was progressing, Nova was not sharp. If anything, Nova looks tenser on the mound this season. He hasn’t lasted very long into most starts and usually has a pitch count in or approaching the 100’s by the end of the fifth.

His walks have been attributing to his high WHIP of 1.46 as he’s only seven below where his total was last year. He’s also already allowed more hits than last year in less innings pitched. He’s also been allowing a frightening trend of runs a game. This season, Nova has allowed 86 earned runs in 157.1 innings, whereas last year he only allowed 68 in 165.1 innings. All of this is why his ERA is so high at 4.92. Nova’s command has been really lackluster this season.

So, what exactly is the problem for Nova? Well, another alarming stat is that his fly ball out total is also up from where it was last year. In 2012, Nova has 263 fly ball outs, whereas in 2011 he had 177 at this time. Now granted he was demoted for most of July last season, but I highly doubt three or four starts would have increased his 2011 total by that much. So what? What do fly ball means? Well, it means a lot for Nova, especially since he has pitched terrible in Yankee Stadium this year which we all know is a hitter’s ballpark. At home this season, Nova has a 6.18 ERA with three wins and four losses. Nova never truly established himself as a power pitcher or a pitcher that is too reliant upon fly ball or ground ball outs, but this season says otherwise. With Nova relying on the fly ball in 2012, he hasn’t done well in hitter’s ballparks across the league.

This season, Nova has done extremely well against the Rays who we play six times in September. However, David Phelps who is taking Nova’s spot isn’t scheduled to pitch in next week’s series against Tampa Bay as he is in line for this Sunday against Baltimore. So really, what good would it be to have Nova if he wasn’t able to pitch against the team he’s been doing well against? If the Yankees were to have him pitch against Baltimore, who has absolutely lit him up this season, then they risk losing a game and losing their AL East lead. Nova’s case to pitch in September is rather troublesome and heading into October may not be in favor of the Yankees. He’s only started one postseason game, in which he won, but based on his performance this year, it may be best for the Yankees to have him be fourth in the rotation or just pitch from the bullpen.

So for September, the Yankees may be a little better off without Nova. I’m by no means happy that he is on the disabled list, but I think even if he wasn’t, you have to have him skip a start and talk to him. Let him try to regroup and regain his composure from last year. Perhaps the only positive for Nova is that his strikeout-to-walk ratio is up to 2.78, which is the highest in his career. The Yankees do have other options if Nova can never find his way back again, but here’s hoping that it doesn’t come to that. Just don’t let Nova’s 11-7 record fool you, because behind that comes a lot of concern.