While writing Nova’s breakdown this morning I started to think that maybe he’d be best suited for a role in the bullpen for the playoffs. There is some evidence that he’d help out greatly, even if he’s nothing more than an insurance policy.
1) In his first two innings Nova is especially effective. His line in the first two innings this season: 10 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 1 HR. That amounts to a .194/.275/.306 line. Maybe that’s not ideal for high leverage situations, but that brings us to the second point.
2) The Yankees have only four effective relievers before Rivera: Robertson, Wood, Chamberlain, and Logan. With the four starters that’s just nine men on the pitching staff. Vazquez will be there as the long man, so 10. At that point both Mitre and Gaudin are rendered redundant, so taking Nova, with the aim to use him in short bursts, makes sense as the 11th pitcher.
3) There is no real third point, but three is a good number so here are some more early-appearance numbers for Nova. On pitches 1 through 25 he holds opponents to a .231/.286/.333 line (though he’s actually better on pitches 26-50). When an opponent faces him for the first time in a game he hits .245/.298/.302. WIth men on opponents are hitting .238/.327/.429 off him, which is actually better than his bases empty line — though, again, he won’t be used in high leverage situations.
If the decision comes down to Gaudin or Nova, at this point I think Nova has to get the nod.