Aug
07

The Ivan Nova Problem

By

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

There were a number of reasons to be optimistic about Ivan Nova coming into this season. The 25-year-old put together a dynamite second half and deservingly served as the Yankees’ number two starter in the postseason last year, leading to some over-sized expectations for 2012. It looked like Nova had a chance to develop into that solid, homegrown starting pitcher both the fans and the organization have been aching to see since even before the days of Chien-Ming Wang.

Instead, Nova has developed into another A.J. Burnett. The New York version, not the Pittsburgh version. He has good stuff but not the requisite command, plus a knack for allowing that big hit … over and over and over again. Like Burnett in 2010-2011, Ivan’s only redeeming quality right now is his ability to take the ball every five days and soak up innings without missing a beat. Through 22 starts he owns a 4.81 ERA (4.54 FIP) and leads the world with 71 extra-base hits allowed*. Starts like last night, seven runs on eleven hits in 5.1 innings, have unfortunately become the norm.

“I’m not the only pitcher in baseball who is going through a bad time right now,” said Nova after last night’s dud. “I know I’m going to get out of this one … I’m not worried about (losing my rotation spot). I’m not worried about ERA or anything like that. I just want to help the team to win games. That’s the most important thing, help the team to win games. I’m not worrying about ERA. The ERA is more like a personal thing. I want to win games, no matter how, just win games for this team.”

Someone should probably tell Nova that ERA correlates directly to helping the team win games, and right now the only team Nova is helping is the one in the other dugout. The only two things he has going for him other than his innings-eating ability are beyond his control — Andy Pettitte‘s injury and the Yankees’ big lead in the division. If Andy was healthy or if the Yankees weren’t six games up in the loss column, there’s a decent chance Ivan would be plying his trade in Triple-A, where he couldn’t hurt the big league team. Brian Cashman & Co. may have pursued a starter more aggressively at the deadline if the division race was closer. Instead, Nova will get a chance to right the ship in games that impact the standings.

Is that a good idea? No, not really. No team wants to start a bad pitcher every five days but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Nova took his demotion like a champ last season and came back a better pitcher because of it, but the Yankees lack alternatives at the moment. Pettitte is hurt, Michael Pineda is hurt, David Phelps is no longer stretched out enough to start — plus it would hurt the bullpen since he’s one of the few non-matchup options out there — and Adam Warren inspires no confidence after he fell on his face in his big league debut. For better or worse, the Yankees are stuck with their young right-hander.

To the team’s credit, they stuck with Phil Hughes through a similar stretch of awfulness in April and he’s rewarded them by pitching pretty darn well since May. Perhaps this is just a rough patch for Nova, though it’s very obvious that his command and location are the problem. We first noticed it back in Spring Training, so this isn’t something that just popped up last week. Look at his month-by-month splits — he’s had one good month this year, and that was against NL lineups during interleague play in June. Nova has, unequivocally, been a major letdown this season.

It seems clear that poor command and location have dogged Nova pretty much all year, but the cause of those command and location problems is unknown. At least to you and me, anyway. Perhaps he’s hurt, maybe it’s a mechanical thing, maybe it’s mental, maybe it’s one of a million other things. Whatever it is, it’s up to Nova and pitching coach Larry Rothschild to get it straightened out as soon as possible because the Yankees can’t really afford to absorb Ivan’s stinkers ever five days with seven weeks to go in the season. He’s the weak link in the rotation and he’s prevented the team from getting on any kind of winning streak of late.

* Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, Nova is only 15 extra-base hits away from tying 1989 Andy Hawkins for the most allowed in franchise history. There’s a chance he could break the record this month, before we even get to September.

Categories : Pitching
  • The Real Greg

    “It looked like Nova had a chance to develop into that solid, homegrown starting pitcher both the fans and the organization have been aching to see since even before the days of Chien-Ming Wang.”

    YES!

  • Richard Leo

    Maybe we are a little harsh on Nova.
    Who ever expect he can contribute so much to yankees when he was in Minors.
    He is still quite young,just give him time to adjust.

  • Swishalicious

    Stick with the kid! A demotion now would only kill any confidence he has. When Nova was on a tear last year, what were the catching matchups? Was he paired with Cervelli often? If so, maybe it’s time to recall Francisco from AAA?

    • jsbrendog

      A demotion now would only kill any confidence he has.

      did you read the article? or watch last year? cause, you know, he got demoted cause he flat out sucked and worked harder and came back better. thanks for playing fake internet athlete psychiatrist though. we have some lovely parting gifts

      • Swishalicious

        So please tell me doctor, why send a kid down with roster expansion coming in 2 weeks and no other real options? A little late in the season for your “cure-all” method. By the way, I’ll take the Rice-A-Roni over the Turtle Wax.

        • jsbrendog

          oh i never pretend to be a doctor, i base my thoughts on facts. like the fact that it didnt hurt him last yr in a similar situation so why would it now? also i never said it would cure all. you have successfully put opinions and words in my mouth when i never expressed anything other than disagreement with your amateur psychology.

          sorry, we only have vegan rice a roni.

          • Swishalicious

            Try posting positive comments for once instead of trolling fellow Yankee fans with snide remarks. Maybe Mike will take you on as a blogger since you’re so superior to all of us.

      • DM

        I don’t have a problem with demoting any player who has an option left — but Nova wasn’t sucking when he got demoted last year. He was sent down to get a look at Hughes coming back while keeping him stretched out. I know it’s been perpetuated here by Mike and others — but in reality it was a roster crunch.

        http://hardballtalk.nbcsports......il-hughes/

        And regarding Hawkins, Hughes has a worse extra-base rate than him as well. But you won’t see that (or any notion of Hughes being demoted to AAA when he was hurting the team) in a Mike article.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Oh yes, you’re right. I never once advocated for Hughes to be moved into a lesser role this year except for all the times I wanted him to be out of the rotation in April.

          • YanksFanInBeantown

            To be fair, you didn’t want him demoted though.

            Wanting someone demoted means you think they’re salvageable.

          • DM

            I said “demotion to AAA” — which was a non-starter for you under any circumstance. You wanted him moved to the far end of the pen at most but still be on the staff no matter what. Your response was “What’s the point?” to demoting him to AAA.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              Because he’s going to be a free agent next year. I wanted them to put him in the bullpen to get some value out of him before he walks. Nova’s going to be around for a while, at least in theory.

              • Waaaaah! Police

                Why are you so defensive? Just own your mistakes. Instead it seems like you have a really hard time admitting them. That just makes you seem petty.

                By the way, show me a pitcher in the history of baseball who has shown Hughes’ HR rate and survived over the long-term. He’s very far from out of the woods.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                  I don’t follow. I made a mistake by not saying Hughes should have been sent to the minors?

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                  And who needs Hughes to survive in the long-term? He’s gone after next year.

                  • DM

                    I used to think Phil was definitely gone after next year too — but the more I think about 2014 and beyond, the more I believe the Yankees will have to change their way of dealing with their own young players. Everyone talks about the Cano/Boras showdown and Granderson, but the starting pitching situation looks even scarier to me. If Phil finishes strong I could see them dangling a moderate $ 2 or 3 yr deal to him this off-season. He could take the security now then still leave as FA a few years later. It might work for both sides.

                    With the Banuelos setback, the Pineda recovery, and Kuroda and Pettitte not being a realistic option for 2014, the rotation looks to be a bit barren going forward.

              • DM

                Yeah, I remember. But you can’t have a pitcher take a spot on the staff no matter what. Even though Hughes had an option left, AAA was never an option for him for you. Like I said at the time, if you demoted him and kept him starting, you’d need him on the big team to start again at some point. And he has far less of a track record in AAA than Nova does. No one gets a spot locked up regardless. Wade was great last year, but he lost it so he got bumped. If you have an option, it’s not a crime to use it — even for Phil.

                • Waaaaah! Police

                  This.

                • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

                  I agree, but I just didn’t think it was worth it due to his impending free agency. You only have him for X more number of days, I thought they should have gotten whatever they could have out of him during that time.

        • jjyank

          Hughes has actually been pretty damn good though, outside of April. He gives up a lot of long balls, but that’s been pretty much his only flaw for a few months now.

          • Waaaaah! Police

            The *only* flaw that has widespread implications across his entire game. It’s like saying a hitter is good except his only flaw is he strikes out more than Rob Deer.

            • jjyank

              I’m not saying Hughes is an ace. But he’s been a good pitcher for an extended period. Maybe the homers will be a bigger problem down the road, but if he keeps his walk rates low and limits hits, maybe not. Some people in this thread are acting like Hughes is terrible and needs to go with Nova to AAA.

            • Jim Is Bored

              Giving up a lot of HRs can be mitigated by striking out a lot of guys and not walking many.

              Which Hughes is doing pretty well.

        • Waaaaah! Police

          So good it needs to be shouted form the rooftops. Nova had already turned a corner by the time he was sent down. To say otherwise is to ignore the facts.

      • http://yes jim

        I said it before…Rothschild got hired because he said he could fix AJ. Well, he did that by seeing him traded to the Pirates. None of the Yankee pitchers are anywhere close to top numbers in the AL. CC has in fact, gotten worse. Kuroda is matching the Dodger numbers, and Hughes is better than 2011. But, none of the pitchers have improved. Getting off topic, as much as the offense sings the praises of K-Long…where have they improved. Grandy has struck out 11 times in the last four games. If Dunn spends time on the DL, I’m sure he’ll pass him for the lead in strikeouts. Also, you have two players barely hitting over .300. The next average is in the .260’s. Maybe it’s time for a change. And YES Michael Kay, even Larry Bowa talked of the time he was sat down because of his lack of hustle to first base. His manager having told him he must be too tired to play. Cano’s lack of hustle to first cost him a hit when Infante came up with a good play. Girardi has done nothing here, doesn’t want to change things. I am shocked however by his blasting Nova for his last two starts. The off season, they will be talking about the 2012 Yankee collapse.

        • jjyank

          “…and Hughes is better than 2011. But, none of the pitchers have improved.”

          Logic fail? I couldn’t read past that, sorry.

          • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

            I’ve read that three times…I still don’t understand it.

        • http://yes jim

          You couldn’t understand it? Read it three times? Hughes is better than last year. He was terrible in 2011. He leads the league in giving up homers. What can’t you understand? Nova a wide lead in extra base hits. Hughes’ slight improvement doesn’t give Rothschild a pass. Every Yankee pitcher since he’s been hired, has gone downhill. That’s what I said. Nova and Garcia are lucky to average five innings in their last starts. Check out the ERA’s. Burnett is kicking butt on all Yankee pitchers with 14 wins 3.09 era. All the Yankee pitchers were beating him in wins, what happened? And, by picking on my giving slight praise to Hughes, you miss the point of the comment….It’s time to replace Rothschild and Long or they WILL be talking Yankee collapse 2012.

          • YanksFanInBeantown

            Wins?

            I thought we were talking about pitcher performance here…

          • jjyank

            My original comment still stands. I don’t get how you can say Hughes was better, but hasn’t improved.

            Also, I think you’re putting way too much stock in the coaching staff. Rothschild and Long are the only thing that stands between victory and a collapse?

            • YanksFanInBeantown

              Maybe he’s saying that Hughes hasn’t improved since 2010?

            • http://yes jim

              jjyank. Keep killing my statement on Hughes and ignore the rest. Yanksfan was right…since 2010, Hughes has gone down. He is doing better than 2011, but, is leading the AL in HR’s allowed. In any interview Hughes has give, he credits Pettitte for any improvement. Kuroda is still pitching like a Dodger, even with Martin catching him, so he’s stayed the same. CC, Nova, Garcia, and HUGHES have been going downhill. And as for performance vs. wins, as Flash said yesterday, ERA has something to do with performance and WINS. I just brought up that since Burnett is away from the man who was hired to right the ship…he has a lower ERA and more WINS than any Yankee pitcher. Also, yes I can put it on the coaches. How have the Angels done since Hatcher was fired? If you want a third coach thrown in…Pena and his catchers are terrible. They have to teach. In two years the Yankees will have $75miliion invested in three players. That means they have $114million for 22. Don’t see how they can keep Jeter, Swisher, Grandy, and Cano. At even 13million per for those four…that leaves 60million for 15 players. The players we are watching can’t or won’t bunt, won’t take a pitch let alone a walk, won’t hit behind the runner let alone hit the other way facing an awful shift. They probably won’t go anywhere, but, the A”s play with enthusiasm, hustle, and the coaching staff talks to the hitters and go out to the mound before 5 runs are given up. I guess I’m just mad because I see the Yanks laughing and smiling when they’re losing big. Hershieser brought this up on ESPN, but, at the time he was talking about the Sawx. But….Hughes is doing better.

        • Heisenberg’s Hat

          Hiroki is matching his NL west numbers in the AL east. That right there is an improvement, and certainly better than could ever be expected.

  • JohnC

    Nothing like piling on heh?

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    I think both he and Hughes give up too many hits with two strikes. Hughes has improved on that lately. I believe both of them would become better pitchers if the learned a put away pitch such as the splitter. Like I never lost faith in Phil, I am not losing it in Ivan. The latter has pretty good stuff and if the Yankees trade him they will be sorry. Let us not forget that the hitting with runners in scoring position is still pretty poor and that the team has not one comeback win after being behind in the 8th inning or later.

    • Swishalicious

      Does anybody ever hear of Rothschild working with Hughes and Nova?
      All I ever see is the guy making a trip to the mound about 2 hitters too late during a game. You always hear from K-Long when a hitter is in a slump and how they’re working on this or that, but I never see or hear anything from our pitching coach.

      • jsbrendog

        just cause you don’t hear about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. rothschild might just not like the spotlight or need any attention. if he weren’t doing his job I’m sure girardi/cashman/pena would do something, especially with 2 former catchers on the staff in the dugout. I mean, they’re basically like on field pitching coach light right? amirite?! veal good!! server tips important!!

        • Swishalicious

          Except you hear about every other facet of the team through pregame and postgame reporting – wouldn’t you as a fan want to know something is being done? It’s not the spotlight, it’s his job. Given your point, if this is all in “stealth mode” then it’s alarming you have that much veteran knowledge in the dugout and we haven’t seen any improvement. Again, I’m not for giving up on Nova – I want this kid to succeed and pitch a long time for us.

          • Ethan

            They probably don’t want to announce exactly what they’re doing with their pitchers because it might help the other teams find a way to attack a certain pitcher. For example: if he’s releasing the ball late or dropping his shoulder when throwing a curve ball the other teams will look for that (completely random example).

          • Deep Thoughts

            That’s about reporters failing to ask the right questions. When someone actually does ask in the press conference, they usually get a straight answer.

            Unfortunately most beat reporters ask contorted leading questions, fishing for a “yes” to complete the narrative of whatever lousy fabricated editorial opinion they’re planning to assert.

    • Stan the Man

      Good points. Both pitchers have done a better job of getting strikeouts this year but they still give up way too many hits with 2 strikes.

  • Stan the Man

    I think we all can agree that the Yankees pitching staff is better when Nova is on top of his game and anything in the sub 4 era land would be great, like it was last year. But the Yanks do have CC, Kuroda and Hughes who are solid right now. Garcia is holding his own and Pettitte should have a couple of starts to get himself back into shape for the postseason. Nova’s struggles are alarmaing and his one great month is definitely behind him, but if he doesn’t pull out of this funk he isn’t going to pitch in October, so are we worried that the teams worst starter right now is going to cost them a 5+ game lead in the division?

  • Smart Guy

    optimism should have been reserved for 2013, I dont know why it should be a shocked to most people, coming into the year I said Nova and pineda were due for some sophomore slumps, specifically nova was going to have a bad second half, its just part of it, most young pitchers experience this, most come out of it in year 3 others just get cooked so if Nova is a long term piece he will rebound next year, as for this year they should continue to throw him out there cause he needs to keep developing.

  • Eddard

    Nova needs to be sent down to AAA immediately. He has no control and hasn’t all season. Texas will tee off on him. Boston with healthy lineup will tee off on him. Send him down now to get things worked out and put Phelps in the rotation until Andy returns. That will solve the Ivan Nova problem.

    • Stan the Man

      That is tad aggressive. Why not make the pitching coach earn his money and fix him? Your solution to the problem doesn’t actually solve anything. Putting Phelps in the rotation will do what exactly? He will pitch 4 innings and they they have to turn the game over the bullpen which will stretch them out and put pressure on the rest of the rotation. As for Boston, CC is getting torched by them every single start and Texas tees off on a lot of teams, the problem is Nova is getting torched by Baltimore and that is something that needs to be fixed.

    • Jim Is Bored

      You can’t put Phelps in the rotation right now unless you want a 5 inning pitcher.

      • Laz

        5inning pitcher that keeps you in the game is better than 6inning pitcher that loses.

      • Mike

        Seems like that’s what Nova has been lately though, no?

  • JohnC

    The same fans who kill him and want him run out of town will be calling for Cashman’s head if he trades him and he does well somewhere else.

    • Ethan

      I have always been completely open to trading Nova. So many on this site are obsessed with the team’s prospects. If they can be traded and bring back something useful for the team I’m all for it. Nova has never projected as a front of the rotation type guy. If we could have (not anymore probably) traded him + a few others for a useful piece I’d be all for it.

    • JonS

      You have to almost expect him to do better elsewhere. Especially if he ended up in San Diego or some place like that. So why would fans be mad?

      • YanksFanInBeantown

        There are people who are pissed that we traded AJ away…

  • Gonzo

    Ivan Nova Yu Darvish
    ERA 4.81 4.57
    xFIP 3.88 3.90
    SIERA 3.79 3.90
    IP 138.1 134.0

    • Stan the Man

      The Texas Rangers starting rotation is awesome at least that is the impression I get when listening to any baseball game on ESPN that has Rick Sutcliffe in the booth.

      • Gonzo

        Rick Sutcliffe is the guy that picked Jeff Samardzija in the first round of the ESPN franchise draft.

        • jjyank

          Haha, that’s pretty much all you need to know.

        • Kramerica Industries

          I thought it was Steven Lombardozzi?

    • gc

      Well ain’t that a kick in the head.

    • YanksFanInBeantown

      They’re both pitching terribly?

      Good to know.

      • Gonzo

        Except one cost over $50mm to have a conversation with last offseason.

        • YanksFanInBeantown

          The rookie who’s never faced major league hitting before and still has a lower RA9?

          • gc

            Yeah, that one. The one who also cost over $50M to have a conversation with in the off-season. That’s the one.

            • YanksFanInBeantown

              I’m gonna reserve judgment until the Rangers have a chance to teach him how to pitch like a grown man, and not like Daisuke Matsuzaka, during the offseason.

              If he still sucks next year, I’ll concede the point.

              • Gonzo

                That’s understood, but I don’t think the Rangers paid all that money to talk to him thinking they would have to teach him that or that it would take this long.

                He’s also older than Ivan Nova.

              • gc

                Oh, I’m not totally writing the guy off. I actually like Yu Darvish. His stuff is pretty amazing when he’s on. I just refuse to cry in my beer over the Yankees not putting up an insane posting fee for the guy in the winter. But the fact of the matter is, right now, neither pitcher is setting the world on fire AND that for as bad as things look for the Yankees right now, there are other teams (other GOOD teams) dealing with similar problems. The grass isn’t always greener.

                • YanksFanInBeantown

                  I’m not saying that they should have gone for him, either.

                  Pineda was definitely a better get than Darvish at the time, it’s not Cashman’s fault that he got hurt.

          • Gonzo

            If it makes you feel any better, Wade Miley is a rookie and outperforming both of them.

            • jsbrendog

              but in the nl west, against teams in the nl that nova had his only good month against.

              context

              • Gonzo

                That’s my point. If you dismiss the context of Nova and Darvish, then you shouldn’t care about context at all.

                • YanksFanInBeantown

                  Eh, Darvish’s biggest problem has been control issues that at least partially stem from the transition to the American game. Nova has just been getting smacked around.

                  • Gonzo

                    See, that’s adding context.

  • jsbrendog

    his best month was against the NL you say? So in the WS when they make it he’ll pitch a no hitter against LA/SF/Cin/Wash.

    • Gonzo

      Against the Pirates with AJ throwing a 1-run game on the other side.

  • YanksFanInBeantown

    My issue with Nova is that at some point we have to wonder whether his run last year was the outlier and if this is what we should expect going forward.

  • Eddard

    Maybe they should trade Ivan Nova. Maybe he’s an NL pitcher and not an AL East pitcher. Look at Javy Vasquez, AJ, Randy Johnson. All of those experiments failed miserably. Send Ivan to the NL in a package for Cliff Lee and both sides will be better off.

    • gc

      You have to be twelve years old. There’s no other explanation.

    • jjyank

      Unless it’s a salary dump (which it’s obviously not, since Nova doesn’t make much), selling low doesn’t accomplish much. And Cliff Lee? Seriously?

    • Heisenberg’s Hat

      Yep, Randy Johnson just got killed in the american league.

      EYEROLL

      • YanksFanInBeantown

        Not to mention how poorly AJ pitched in Toronto, when he had to pitch against the Yankees instead of the Jays.

        • DT

          Or his first season here, pitching us to a WS as our number 2…

  • Daniel

    The issue is pitch selection. Nova tries to use his most mediocre pitch (breaking ball) to put hitters away in 0-2 counts. And, too often, the ball ends very far away from the plate… That, and his attitude: “I don’t care about ERA” begs the question “what are Rothschild and Girardi telling him?” I think Phelps needs to be stretched and Nova sent back to AAA. Some humble pie will do him good. He will learn that his spot in the rotation is not guaranteed.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Did you listen to the interview? He’s saying he only cares about team wins, not personal statistics. Your comment is dumb but it starts with the “Well I never” attitude in the original blog post. Nice try Ian Kennedying the kid.

      • Laz

        Lower era is how you give your team best chance to win.

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Problems problems. We have lots of problems here in Anatevka.

  • http://www.twitter.com/vinnyscafuto Vinny Scafuto

    Give him another start to see if he can work out the kinks with his off-speed stuff. If he gets the same results next time out, I think they should skip him a start to give him a rest and work with Rothschild.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Thank you for the first measured and reasonable post in the thread. People screamed for Hughes to get demoted and optioned earlier in the year, and for Freddy to get DFA’d.

      As Cashman said, “Listen to the fans and you’ll be sitting with them.”

      • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

        I still stand by my belief that Freddy should’ve been DFA’d when he was awful. Hindsight is 20/20, and it’s great we have him now that Pettitte is injured and Nova’s been ineffective, but Cashman had no idea that either of those things where gonna happen. He looks like a genius now for not making a move, but DFA’ing Freddy in mid-June was the right move to make at the time.

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          You’re right, Cashman had no idea that either of those things were going to happen, but he’s been around the game long enough to know that things like that do happen over the course of a season.

          He had 2 pitchers in their late 30s and two that could be termed at best, unproven. The odds were very good at the start of the season that he would need that depth.

          That’s why he didn’t DFA Freddy. You don’t build depth just to jettison it at the first sign of trouble.

  • Deep Thoughts

    People will bitch about either a) homegrown pitchers costing $500K and under team control who slump in their sophomore year; or b) aging vets off the scrap heap who “washed up” or “can’t pitch in the AL”; or c) pitchers in their prime years underperforming their massive free-agent contracts. But one way or another, they will bitch, unless and until we have a rotation of five unicorns and Mike Trout in center.

    • YanksFanInBeantown

      Don’t forget Future Yankee Bryce Harper in right.

    • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

      5 unicorns would be a terrible rotation. Not one of them would be able to throw a breaking ball (with their lack of fingers) also their horns would probably make it hard to pick up the catchers signals.

      I’ll be here all week.

      • Kempire Strikes Back

        I’d much prefer a rotation of CC, King Felix, Tim Lincecum, Stephen Strasburg, and a clone of Bob Gibson.

        • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

          CC ISN’T AN ACE!!!!!! HOW CAN YOU HAVE HIM AHEAD OF LINCECUM?!?!?!?!?!

          for real though, How is Timmy even in that rotation, let alone ahead of Strasburg, he’s been terrible this year.

          • Kempire Strikes Back
            • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

              “Why would Plan B…I mean Zack not want to pitch in New York?”

              Priceless.

  • A.D.

    he’s had one good month this year, and that was against NL lineups during interleague play in June.

    That stretch was a bit of a mix NL/AL:
    TBR 8 innings 1 run
    ATL 7 innings 0 run
    WSH 7.2 innings 1 run
    NYM 5.2 innings 3 runs (2 earned)
    CHW 7.1 innings 1 run

    • Kosmo

      and the Cinncinati Reds smacked Nova around auch.

  • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

    Ivan’s been terrible lately, but honestly, who do you (not Mike, but all of the fans) want instead? Warren, who looked overwhelmed in his only major league start. Or Phelps, who line ups are hitting well over .300 against after 50 pitches (or you know second and third times through the line up).

    • jjyank

      Agreed. Phelps may be better than Nova, but he also may not. I feel like too many people are forgetting that Phelps, as much as I like him, is projected as a back-end guy too.

      • Knoxvillain

        I like both Nova and Phelps. But at least Phelps is pitching well.

        • jjyank

          I would probably lean towards Phelps myself. I just don’t think it’s some sort of slam dunk decision. Might be more of one if Phelps was stretched out.

    • Knoxvillain

      Phelps. Give him a shot. Nova is close to (or should be close to) losing his job.

      • http://thecarsboneblog.tumblr.com Raul Ibanez AKA Tom Marvolo Riddle

        I can see it now:

        Knoxvillain says:
        August 26th at 8:22 pm

        Phelps is god awful. How can Girardi have given him a shot, especially with Nova wasting away in AAA?!?! Nova was our number two starter in the playoffs last year, and now he’s in AAA for a guy who cant get through the opposing line up more than twice?! Phelps has made 4 starts now, 3 of which have been awful. It’s time for a change.

  • Cross777

    This is one of the major problems with the Yankees. The entire organization sucks when it comes to pitching.

    Kay and Flahety both talked to the pitching coach who said Nova is making mistakes. Really, that is all he could come up with?

    • gc

      It’s pretty amazing, then, that they STILL have the best record in the American League and the largest divisional lead in the game, and it was their generally terrific overall pitching that contributed heavily towards getting them there. But yeah, I digress, the entire organization sucks when it comes to pitching. (rolls eyes)

  • Darren

    It sucks that Nova has been getting hit hard; that makes it hard to watch. But to get down on him because he doesn’t say EXACTLY what you want to hear in post game interviews is ridiculous. Even the thing when he sort of almost said he is the best pitcher in the world? He was trying to say that you have to BELEIVE you are the best. It’s all about confidence. You should WANT Nova to believe he’s the best, because that kind of confidence will help him get out of this slump (if it’s possible to do so).

    If you want him to win, you should be HAPPY that he doesn’t have a defeatist attitude. As long as he is willing to work hard (and we haven’t heard anything to the contrary), that’s all that matters.

  • Strat

    It’s a good thing we don’t do the confidence poll on Tuesdays!

    • JonS

      Mike should do one after a Nova start. lol

  • Mike

    3.88 xFIP looks pretty good, and much lower than his FIP or ERA, due to a higher than average HR/FB rate. That is 41st in the majors among qualified starters, certainly not a number 1, but a solid 2/3.

  • YanksFanInBeantown

    Seriously though, it’s not that surprising that Ivan Nova has started pitching like Ivan Nova again after having an out-of-this-world August and September last year.

  • Heisenberg’s Hat

    “I’m not the only pitcher in baseball who is going through a bad time right now,”

    Nova really has knack for giving embarrassing quotes, doesn’t he?
    All I keep hearing from everyone else is that it’s the Year of the Pitcher, but Ivan seems to think his bad performances are the norm.

    • Jim Is Bored

      He’s probably friends with Ricky Romero.

  • UncleArgyle

    I agree Nova’s been pretty bad, but its a little over the top I think with the criticism. The teams 25 year old # 5 starter making the league minimum isn’t pitching well? What team can survive that! If only the Yankees had ponied up the $100mil for Yu Darvish, then we’d really have something to complain about.

  • mick taylor

    why didnt the yankees trade for francisco liriano . his contract runs out this year. if petite can’t come back, liriano could have filled in. white sox gave up nothing for him. oh yeah, the yankees are paying a pitcher 13 million dollars to go 14-3 for the pirates. they could have kept him since, he was the only yankee pitcher who pitched well last year in the playoff. if he sucked this year again, then the yankees would only be out 3million if they cut him.. yankee cheapness is really getting me down when i have to pay so much to see a game.

    • pat

      Anyone claiming they wanted to keep Burnett is full of shit.

    • Darren

      I agree. I also think you were the best guitarist the Stones ever had! So cool that you are a Yankee fan!

    • Bunt Gardner

      The fact you brought up AJ in that context completely undermines your credibility.

  • pat

    Ivan needs to get back to just pounding the zone with his fastball instead of trying to paint corners with sliders and other offspeed stuff. I like that he has confidence in them enough, but you gotta dance with who brung ya.

  • thenamestsam

    I ‘d stick with Nova. The kid still has good stuff and I still think he can be a very good pitcher in the long-term. He has shown the ability to get ground balls, to strike people out, and to limit his walks. He has the skills, he just needs to put it back together.

    This is largely why developing pitchers, which people constantly deride the Yankees about, is so hard for perennial contenders (of which the Yanks are one of very few). The pitchers who come right out of the gate dominating the majors are very rare, and are almost all extremely high picks. For other young pitchers struggle is the norm, not the exception, and having the patience to wait for improvement is hard when you’re checking the division standings nightly.

    Besides I don’t see the purpose of making a change at this point. Phelps is pitching well, but he’s not stretched out. No one else is beating down the door. There’s only 3 weeks left until rosters expand, and about a month until Pettite is (hopefully) back. It just doesn’t seem worth making a change for 5 or 6 starts at this point.

  • rek4gehrig

    Much worse that Nova’s current incompetence is his arrogance.

    • YanksFanInBeantown

      I’d rather he be cocky than be a nervous wreck. If he doesn’t believe that he’ll be at his best every time he pitches, he’s already lost.

      • rek4gehrig

        Understood. But there is a huge difference between saying this:

        “I’m not the only pitcher in baseball who is going through a bad time right now”

        and saying this:

        “I am not pitching well right now but I believe that I will turn it around”.

        The former is arrogant whilst the latter is all about humilty and quiet confidence.

        • jjyank

          English also isn’t his first language. I won’t analyze a couple of quotes from him, I don’t really see the point of judging a guy based on that.

          This is why guys like Ichiro continue to use a translator.

        • YanksFanInBeantown

          I think the problem isn’t so much how he’s feeling but how he’s expressing himself. Most professional athletes are supremely confident to the point of arrogance, they have to be to be successful. Nova just hasn’t gotten good at hiding that from the media yet.

        • Deep Thoughts

          I’d definitely prefer a cocky nervous wreck to an insufferable language peeve who huffs about the tone of a quote taken out of context

    • JohnnyC

      The arrogance that bothers me is the Yankees’ attitude that it’s no problem to keep starting Nova because they have a 6 game lead in the division. I’d like to see Cashman’s expression when they miss the final wild card by 1 game or better yet have to play a 1 game playoff against Jared Weaver…in Anaheim.

      • YanksFanInBeantown

        Or you could, you know,

        Root for the Yankees to do well…

        • jjyank

          Yeah, this. I would never “love” to see anybody’s face if the Yankees lose.

  • JohnnyC

    Seems like a perfect time to trade Phil Hughes.

  • RetroRob

    Not quite ready to throw the kid under the bus. The last two starts have been the worst since he came up in late 2010.

    While he pitched well in June against the weaker NL lineups, it was also quite clear he was pitching well. Better command, good breaking pitch. He’s now on the opposite end of that.

    It is too bad that they Phelps has never once been properly stretched out for a long enough period of time where he could be inserted for several games at starter and he can give more than four innings. Now would be the time to give him a more extended look. Nova doesn’t have to go back to the minors. He could also work out of the pen.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Holy god this thread is a mess. I didn’t even bother with the game thread last night.

    In a perfect world, he’d be demoted. He’s pitching like shit. However, I have no clue who I’d replace him with for the time being. I think any other option ready to start right now for the team could actually be much worse.

    Sometimes, you have to work your shit out in the rotation. Not ideal for a team which shouldn’t be resting too comfortably with their first place lead, but shit inevitably happens. #ineverhaveanopinion

    • Jim Is Bored

      You should have seen the Jimmy McNulty show in the recap.

  • bg90027

    I think people are overeacting to Nova’s struggles. It’s not a fair comparison to compare him to Bad AJ or Hughes at the start of this year. Hughes pitched 5 or more innings only once in April. AJ Burnett had 10 starts of less than 5 innings pitched in 2010. In those starts, they were not only putting the team in a hole but overtaxing the bullpen which had repercussions in other starts where key relievers were either not available or not as effective due to being overworked.

    Nova by contrast has pitched 5 or more innings in every start he’s made this year. Also, while his overall numbers aren’t good, they are inflated by a handful of starts where he’s been really knocked around including these last two. Michael Kay made the point last night that Nova had won only one game since June 17th and that his ERA was above 8.00 in that stretch. It’s misleading though. In 6 of those 9 starts, he’s given up 3 ER or less. He’s had some good games in that period along with many that the Yankees were in a position to win even if he didn’t pitch great.

    I don’t think he’s been killing the team. If he were getting knocked out early in ball games, I’d be for sending him down to get more work. I’m not sure though that he couldn’t get away with his mistakes against AAA hitters. Given that his able to pitch into the middle of his starts though, he probably is better off pitching to major league hitters. If the Yankees continue to struggle and their lead in the east narrows, maybe my opinion would change. If he pitches a few more games as poorly as his last two, maybe my opinion would change.

    I’d probably be for sending Phelps down and stretching him out and either recalling Wade or Warren for the pen at least to give them a better option if the lead narrows and Nova really struggles. I can’t help but think though that he’s better off continuing to work on his stuff against major league hitters at least until it really looks like it would hurt the ball team to let him do that.

    • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

      Ahh. Fresh air.

      My issue is that he’s to getting beat on his best pitch, but on his worst (it’s what my eyes say, too lazy to look it up). If he’s a two pitch pitcher, then we may have a problem. He has to keep the FB down and, more importantly, the breaking pitch.

      • Heisenberg’s Hat

        Giving up homeruns to two awesome hitters? That’s going to happen. But giving up screaming line drive hits to the bottom of the order, that’s the disturbing part.

  • Brandon

    A) There is no way in hell Hughes is leaving after next year. If he ends the season well, I could see the Yankees giving him an extension after this year. He’s an important pitcher for us. His only downfall has become the long ball which is mitigated by his ability to strike people out and not walk many batters, as someone said above.

    B) Nova is not that good. He had a great month vs the NL, but has been average to terrible besides that. The whole season, he’s shown a knack of letting innings spiral out of control. I’ve also noticed he’s been remarkably inconsistent during games. Some innings are terrible to beyond awful, and others he looks like an ace.

    C) Its very unfortunate we dont have alot of non matchup bullpen options that we have to use Phelps as one. I’d feel alot more comfortable when Pettitte returns, having the rotation be CC, Kuroda, Andy, Hughes and Phelps than I am with CC, Kuroda, Andy, Hughes, Nova/Garcia.

    • bg90027

      Hughes is outpitching Nova now but he went through a much longer period where he struggled than Nova has. Why are you so quick to want to extend Hughes and give up on Nova?

  • Tom

    It’s too early to give up on Nova. while this may sound trite….young pitchers struggle and are inconsistent. Unless the division is in jeopardy I think you have to keep running him out there

    He has 22 starts this year:
    – 8 starts of 5ER or more (“disaster” starts)
    – 11 starts of 2ER or less (actual quality starts, though I think one or 2 may have been 5 IP)
    – just 3 starts allowing 3ER or 4ER

    I think the AJ Burnett comparison is an interesting one… and I think one of Nova’s problem is his increasing predictability (which I think was part of AJ’s problems with the Yankees) Since he started striking out a lot more hitters at the end of last year with his slider, his fastball usage is way down this year (over 7%)and I think he has gotten into the rut of relying on slider/curve to strike people out with 2 strikes and his fastball usage is more predictable. He uses it early in counts to get ahead or when behind in counts doesn’t seem to use it very much in neutral counts or when he’s ahead.

    AJ Burnett’s last year with the Yankees saw a major drop in fastball usage, with the Pirates he’s increased the fastball usage 5%. There’s obviously the league and park factors, but he’s gotten back to using his fastball and I think that has made him a more effective pitcher.

    I think Nova has fallen in love with his slider/curve a bit too much and needs to get back to throwing his fastball more. It may lead to a bit of a decrease in K rate but it should help his GB rate, reduce the HR rate and will probably make his secondary stuff more effective.