Ivan Nova and the rotation going forward


(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

Even though they were saddled with a frustrating loss, the Yankees have to be encouraged by what they saw out of first time starter Ivan Nova last night. He avoided certain doom in the very 1st inning (with some help from Brett Gardner) before settling down and more than holding his own the rest of the way. Nine of the final ten men he faced made outs, with the lone exception being a dinky little infield single that ended his outing perhaps a little sooner than I think we all expected. Given his pitch count (73) when he was lifted with one out in the 6th, there’s a very real chance that Nova could have completed seven full innings he had been given the opportunity. That’s like hitting the lottery when you’re talking about a 23-year-old pitcher in the AL East.

In a normal situation, Nova easily earned himself another start, but the Yanks aren’t exactly in a normal situation right now. They’re in a division race and have five other (theoretically) capable starters on the roster already. The plan was to use Nova to give the other starters a little extra rest here and there, though the team never divulged how many starts they actually plan to give him. Joel Sherman reported “at least two or three,” but I’m not sure we can take that as gospel. I’m willing to bet this situation is a lot more fluid than we may think, and the team is going to play it by ear until their spot in the standings becomes a little more certain.

Prior to yesterday’s game, Joe Girardi indicated that his starters for the next five games will be as follows:

Tonight: Dustin Moseley (five days rest)
Tomorrow: Phil Hughes (five days rest)
Thursday: OFF
Friday: A.J. Burnett (six days rest)
Saturday: CC Sabathia (six days rest)
Sunday: Javy Vazquez (seven days rest)

Nova’s start combined with the off day gave them the opportunity to split up Burnett and Vazquez not just because they’re unpredictable and could burn out the bullpen in a two day span, but also because Girardi wants Frankie Cervelli to serve as the personal catcher for both pitchers. Now they don’t have to worry about 39-year-old Jorge Posada potentially catching three days in a row just to keep the catching rotation in order.

What happens after those five games is anyone’s guess right now. Obviously they could go right back to Moseley and Hughes on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, with both pitching on five days rest before running A.J., CC, and Javy out there after that on their normal four days rest. They also have the option of starting Nova on Wednesday, giving those three guys another day of rest. There’s about a dozen different options here.

Perhaps the best thing to do from a big picture point of view is to start Nova on either Monday or Tuesday, Moseley the other day, then go to the regulars with Hughes getting skipped this one time through the rotation to control his innings. The punchless A’s (.311 team wOBA) are in town early next week, which makes throwing the rookie out there in the division race a little easier to swallow. Yeah, that’s weak logic, but I figured it was worth mentioning.

Really, the most important thing going forward is a) making sure Hughes’ workload doesn’t enter the danger zone (he’s at 140.2 innings right now), and b) Sabathia makes as many starts as possible. An extra day here or there is fine, but he makes the big bucks for a reason, and that’s so the team can lean on him in crucial late season games. Under no circumstances should CC be pushed back a day just to squeeze in a start for Nova to keep him from getting stale, unless of course the Yanks have a comfortable division lead.

There’s one other thing we have to remember here: Nova’s on an innings limit too. He’s at 153.1 innings this season, a career high. He threw 139.1 innings last year and 148.2 the year before, so what’s his limit this year, maybe 180? That’s another four or five starts, which … is probably fine now that I think about it. I suppose the only way it becomes an issue is if the Yanks remove Vazquez from the rotation for whatever reason (injury, ineffectiveness) and decide to go with Nova as one of the regular starting pitchers. I’m not saying that’s what I think they should do, but we can’t rule it out completely.

For now, the Yankees have to be encouraged by what Nova did last night, and should feel confident with him making another start in the not too distant future. When (or if) that chance comes is anyone’s guess, but with Hughes on an innings limit and Vazquez walking a tightrope, I’m willing to bet that Mr. Nova will make another start for the Bombers before the season is out.

Categories : Pitching


  1. CountryClub says:

    I like what we saw from him last night. The moment didn’t appear to be too big for him. His FB and change looked MLB quality and so did his curve the few times he got it over the plate.

    If nothing else, he continued to improve his trade value.

  2. Matt :: Sec105 says:

    Love what we say from Nova last night. He didn’t look rattled when he was on the ropes in the first, and after that he just got stronger and stronger. Hated that Girardi took him out when he did, didn’t really get it.

    I do like the plan you laid out which gets him a few starts, but as you mentioned, keeping CC is line is most important. Wouldn’t mind him taking Javy’s spot a few times if Javy looks like he has of late. Gives Ivan a chance to prove himself, and hopefully gets Javy a rest.

    To early to look forward at 2011?
    CC, CLee, Burnett, Hughes, Nova?
    -I expect Pettitte to retire, only because he’s battle injury this year.
    -Obvs don’t offer Javy arb…guy’s a different pitcher and his ‘new’ stuff doesn’t translate to the AL East (heck, prob not AL).

  3. Steve H says:

    I wonder (as many others have) if Hughes is more on a pitch count than an innings count. He’s averaged about 102 pitches per start this year. Interestingly in his first 12 starts he only threw less than 100 pitches once (99) but in his last 11 starts he’s thrown less than 100 4 times. There could be extenuating circumstances around some of these starts (like the 9 run inning in his last start) but I don’t think it’s coincidental. In his first 12 starts he was averaging 105 pitches per start. In his last 11 he’s averaged 99. Pretty small difference per start, but added up it’s saving some of his bullets for this year. If they have done this intentionally, I wonder if they are less concerned with the total innings.

    • Stephen R. says:

      I certainly hope so. Innings is a far more crude metric. I would hope they have a very smart way of quantifying his workload that accounts for pitches and the relative stress of those pitches (i.e. pitches 75-100 in an outing or pitches 20+ in an inning being weighted more heavily). It would also explain why they refer to a soft cap of 175 innings for Hughes. They may not know exactly how may innings it will take for him to reach his “ceiling”, it may be defined in far more granular terms.

  4. A.D. says:

    Nova did look pretty good last night outside of the first inning, shame the Joe G had such a quick hook

  5. I’ll give it a shot.

    Tue, Aug 24 @ TOR: Moseley (five days rest)
    Wed, Aug 25 @ TOR: Hughes (five days rest)
    Thu, Aug 26 – off
    Fri, Aug 27 @ CHI: Burnett (six days rest)
    Sat, Aug 28 @ CHI: Sabathia (six days rest)
    Sun, Aug 29 @ CHI: Vazquez (seven days rest)
    Mon, Aug 30 v OAK: Nova (six days rest) – Hughes pushed back
    Tue, Aug 31 v OAK: Moseley (five days rest)
    Wed, Sep 1 v OAK: Burnett (on-rotation)
    Thu, Sep 2 v OAK: Sabathia (on-rotation)
    Fri, Sep 3 v TOR: Hughes (eight days rest) – Vazquez pushed back
    Sat, Sep 4 v TOR: Nova (on-rotation)
    Sun, Sep 5 v TOR: Moseley (on-rotation)
    Mon, Sep 6 v BAL: Burnett (on-rotation)
    Tue, Sep 7 v BAL: Sabathia (on-rotation)
    Wed, Sep 8 v BAL: Vazquez (seven days rest) – Hughes pushed back)
    Thu, Sep 9 – off

    Hughes could then start the first game of the roadie on 6 days rest, or you could push him back even further if Andy’s ready, or just have Andy replace one of Nova/Moseley.

    The nice things about this is you’re basically lining up Vazquez and Hughes’s starts, so you can alternate them and skip one of them each turn through the rotation. Oh, and Burnett and Vazquez never pitch next to each other, so no back-to-back Cervelli (although that probably isn’t as big of a deal as we’re making it.)

    • Sorry, that September 8th start for Vazquez should read “Ten days rest”, not just seven. He’d have been skipped an entire turn in the rotation.

      Cut and past fail, my bad.

    • Carlosologist says:

      TSJC, I want your guess on when Andy should make his return to the rotation. I would guess he gets activated on the September 9th off day.

    • Bill in Boston says:

      here’s what I came up:

      Last night Nova impressed me. Right now he has better stuff than Moseley or Vazquez and I would like to see him get more starts than those 2. Plus, Vazquez could use a little break it seems to see if he can find his stuff again. Below is how I would like to see the rotation play out – trying to maximize CCs starts and resting Hughes for the stretch run.

      8/24 @TOR Moseley
      8/25 @TOR Hughes
      8/26 OFF
      8/27 @CWS Burnett
      8/28 @CWS Sabathia
      8/29 @CWS Vazquez (although I prefer Nova here)
      8/30 OAK Moseley on 5 days
      8/31 OAK Hughes on 5 days
      9/1 OAK Burnett on 4 days
      9/2 OAK Sabathia on 4 days
      9/3 TOR Vazquez on 11 days if you start Nova on 8/29; else Nova
      9/4 TOR Nova (if Nova on 9/3 then Vazquez on 5 days)
      9/5 TOR Moseley to push Hughes back
      9/6 BAL Burnett on 4 days
      9/7 BAL Sabathia on 4 days
      9/8 BAL Hughes on 7 days

      • Frank says:

        There’s just one problem with your projection. Lining up Vazquez, Nova, Mosely and AJ in row between 9-3 and 9-6 can potentially burn out the BP if all four pitch ineffectively or last no more than 5 innings, which is a very real possibility.

        • Bill in Boston says:

          agreed but rosters do expand then so the bullpen will have more help. Also, that’s 4 of the 6 possible starters. They have to pitch in consecutive days at some point. I’d love to run CC and Hughes out there every other day but the other guys have to step up.

    • Johnny O says:

      I like this for two reasons – 1. javy and hughes get rested/skipped. The former for suckiness, the latter for freshness. 2. doesn’t rely on pettitte at all so his coming back will be gravy.

      Burnett also could use a bit of rest. He’s never been the most durable pitcher, which is another reason 2009 had a good deal of luck that he stayed healthy.

  6. Matt :: Sec105 says:

    I like that…but Hughes seems to work better on regular rest. I know that his innings limit is coming up, but I dunno, I’d rather keep him on line.

    How much damage if it went to 180/185 instead of 170/175? Could get 2 more starts and keep him on a regular schedule.

    • CountryClub says:

      Hughes threw just over 100 innings last yr. The yr before that he threw under 100 innings. He hasnt come close to 140 innings since 2006.

    • Johnny O says:


    • Ed says:

      Keep in mind that at this point Vazquez is in no shape to go in the playoff rotation. Either we try a CC/Andy/AJ rotation again, or Hughes ends up starting in October.

      If Hughes is going to start in October, the team really needs to keep his regular season innings down.

  7. Klemy says:

    I did like watching Nova pitch last night. I was baffled by the quick hook, but the points made in the previous threads about the situation at hand makes sense. I can accept Girardi’s line of thinking there, even if I have a different opinion.

    I’d like to see him start in Javy’s place Sunday even, if for nothing more than to give Javy a full time through break. I’ve lost all my confidence in Javy, but maybe there’s an outside chance that missing a start or two helps him. The way he’s going, he’s useless come the postseason, so I hope they try something.

    • Not Tank the Frank says:

      To me, this entire situation is about Javy. He’s been a complete disappointment – if nothing else than for the fact that he was brought here as a guy you could count on to throw 200 innings of at least average pitching. So far he has failed in every way – 130 innings of a 79 ERA+. Phil Hughes has pitched more innings.

      If he had come here and had lived up to even the very least of expectations, the Yankees wouldn’t have this problem. The situation being what it is, the Yankees have now been forced to skip Javy and give him extra days rest in favor of Nova. I really hope he finds himself again over the next month. The Yankees need Javy Vazquez. They won’t be starting Ivan Nova in the playoffs…

      • Frank says:

        I’m betting they won’t start Vazquez in the playoffs either.

      • CountryClub says:

        For two months he was a very good pitcher. And that was very valuable at the time. But I think you’re right; overall he’s been disappointing.

        • Accent Shallow says:

          Yup. Seemed like a great move at the time — bringing in a guy who could likely hold down the 3/4 spot for a few years if Pettitte finally decides to retire. The cost was low, too — Melky and an A-ball lottery ticket? (Seriously, as good as Vizcaino has thrown this year, he’s 19 years old, and in A-ball. At this time last year, he was in the NYPL. He’s a million years away. Watch, now he makes his MLB debut in September of 2011)

          But he has been very disappointing — showed up missing 2 mph off his fastball, and getting hammered. Even at his most effective, he hasn’t had the velocity. Did he age 5 years after 2009? Is he hiding an injury? Does he just have can’t-pitch-in-pinstripes-itis? (Note: not a serious suggestion)

          I loved the move at the time, but I won’t miss Jonron Javy much after the season is over. Of course, he has all of September (and maybe the playoffs) to change my mind.

  8. Joltin' Joe says:

    Why has he been labeled as “a number 4 starter at best”? The guy sits in the low 90s, can hit mid 90s and has the ideal pitchers frame, not to mention the fact that he’s still very young.

    • He doesn’t have much deception in his delivery and it’s easy to pick up the ball (which Jose Bautista certainly demonstrated).

      Also, none of his pitches are real put-away pitches.

      I liked what I saw of him too, but it remains to be seen if he can deal with a lineup of hitters who are actually good at not making outs at a high rate.

      • Joltin' Joe says:

        Yeah, good points. If nothing else he would be worth something decent in a trade.

      • Not Tank the Frank says:

        To be fair, the ball Bautista hit a mile didn’t have much to do with how he picked up the ball out of Nova’s hand. It was a terrible, hanging pitch. His curveball and change sure seem like they can develop into out-pitches. The depth on the curve was filthy. For me, it’s his command of those pitches that sets him back.

      • CountryClub says:

        I was very impressed with his change. It had good movement and he seemed to be able to throw it for strikes.

      • Steve H says:

        it’s easy to pick up the ball (which Jose Bautista certainly demonstrated).

        Yeah, too bad he got out of the way.

        Oh, you meant the HR.

      • Shaun says:

        The Jays are a good team if they were in any other division they’d be either at the top or in second place. But the fact is they are a power team all they can do is hit homers (which they are very good at)at Nova did a good job overall of keeping them on the ground.

  9. Bret says:

    I think the best option might be to DFA Vazquez. He might get picked up by a contender but then the Yankees would get to look forward to facing him in postseason. You can’t tell me with a healthy Pettitte that Vazquez belongs in the top 5, much less the top 3 or 4 for postseason. 6 is a crowd and he is clearly the weakest musical chair. Plus, he whines like a girl – when they skipped him in Boston earlier in the year and has never been thought of as a great team guy.

    Just cut your losses, burn the 11 million and look forward to Vizcaino becoming the next Felix Hernandez. But it was still a great trade for the Yankees because they are tied for 1st place, all hail Brian Cashman.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Pretty sure the only one whining like a girl is you.

    • Not Tank the Frank says:

      And who do you suppose starts in the playoffs?? Do you dare to go with a three-man rotation, starting them on short rest, with a pitcher who would be only a couple weeks removed from a strained groin?

      • Frank says:

        Assuming Pettitte is healthy, the playoff starters will be CC, AJ, Pettitte and Hughes (not necessarily in that order).

        • Johnny O says:

          Would Hughes be a starter by filling the role of ‘starter in the 8th inning’? He’ll be well beyond his innings cap if they make any reasonable playoff run, unless they shut him down for the next month.

    • Carlosologist says:

      (dismissive wanking motion)

    • Just cut your losses, burn the 11 million and look forward to Vizcaino becoming the next Felix Hernandez.

      Hahaha what?

    • Total Dominication says:


    • bexarama says:

      I should be O:Sing this but oh well.

      I think the best option might be to DFA Vazquez. He might get picked up by a contender but then the Yankees would get to look forward to facing him in postseason.

      Then the rotation would be CC/AJ/Moseley/Hughes/Nova until Andy comes back. I know you’d want to see this as a Yankee-hater Bret, but no.

      You can’t tell me with a healthy Pettitte that Vazquez belongs in the top 5, much less the top 3 or 4 for postseason. 6 is a crowd and he is clearly the weakest musical chair

      No, he doesn’t. Right now. What were you saying when he was pitching extremely well in June and July? And if Nova starts a postseason game I will be incredibly surprised.

      Plus, he whines like a girl

      Ah you’re not only an idiot, you’re vaguely misogynistic too. You’re a winner, Bret.

      when they skipped him in Boston earlier in the year

      He whined about that? Where?

      and has never been thought of as a great team guy.

      Actually, hasn’t he been considered a really solid team guy? Even if he’s not, you know who else isn’t a good team guy? Manny Ramirez. It’s irrelevant.

      Just cut your losses, burn the 11 million and look forward to Vizcaino becoming the next Felix Hernandez.
      lol wut. Yes, all vaguely promising pitching prospects become Felix Hernandez. Are you aware Vizcaino got shut down a while back with an arm issue?

      But it was still a great trade for the Yankees because they are tied for 1st place, all hail Brian Cashman.
      You’re right. It was a good trade. It just didn’t work out as well as expected for anyone involved. Again, Vizcaino might need surgery and Melky’s been a bust. Sometimes moves don’t work out. Did you think Kevin Millwood would be this spectacularly terrible? I didn’t, I thought it was a solid veteran backup pickup for a team that was gonna improve and whatnot. Didn’t work out. Doesn’t mean it was some embarrassing move and MacPhail sucks. Your precious Rays didn’t draft Posey and the Burrell move worked out horrendously. That hardly means they’re a dumb, bad organization.

      • Carlosologist says:

        Bold conclusion: Bret is Ron Dibble.

      • Arodys won’t need anything yet but partial tears tend to uh, tear more and he’s had some shoulder issues as well. He rules and all but people who knew nothing about him before he got traded are now acting like he’s a sure thing.

        • bexarama says:

          That, thank you. And I know you’re pretty much the biggest Arodys fan out there, haha.

          • Mister Delaware says:

            Even if you want to pull Javy from the rotation, he’d go to the pen, not a DFA. Excepting his rookie season, every hitter he’s faced out of the pen has gone down on strikes. True fact.

            (But seriously, if you’re sure there are 5 better starters and determine Javy isn’t hurt, he’d play up in the pen and be a decent asset for a month or two.)

    • Tom Zig says:

      Here’s a novel idea! Ignore Bret and he’ll disappear.

  10. larryf says:

    I think facing a good lineup on the road for your first start for the NY Yankees in late August in a tight pennant race at age 23 and performing as Nova did was just fine. He handled the post-game barrage of interviews/questions well in his non-native language. With a correct call at 1B prior to the first HR-an even better result. If you look at the replay of the high inside fastball-Cervelli should have caught it as I stated previously-there would have been far less drama if he did. I would start him in Chicago Sunday.

  11. poster on another computer who happens to be a deuce bag says:

    Question: In the playoffs, do you start Hughes?

    I want to say yes, but he’ll be far over the cap by then.

    Still, with A.J. and Vazquez struggling, do you really put your third best pitcher in the bullpen for a playoff run?

  12. Si says:

    Here it out before u kill it-

    what about stretching out Joba?

    With him having lost the setup role and with aceves coming
    back and albaladejo coming up in a week

    joba would be an upgrade over javy and adds
    more depth.

    I would like to see what joba can do with no rules
    he might lose a couple clicks on fastball with starting
    but it is still harder than vazquez.

    Joba has started in the AL east before

    just a thought

  13. OldYanksFan says:

    Hughes IP: MLB and MiLB combibed (including PS IP)
    2006: 124
    2007: 115
    2008: 70
    2009: 111
    2010: 140 and counting

    At age 24, he’s getting to the age where IP are not as much of an issue, but I still think the Yanks are pushing it.

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