Bullpen can’t pick up Nova in 3-1 loss to Rays

DePaula strikes out six in first High-A start
Fan Confidence Poll: June 24th, 2013

Splitting a four-game series with a Rays is not a terrible result, but it is kinda disappointing the Yankees were unable to make it three of four on Sunday. The Bombers head into Monday’s off-day on the heels of a 3-1 loss.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Nova Returns
By Game Score (52), this was Ivan Nova‘s best start since his third to last start of 2012. That’s kinda telling since he still managed to put a dozen men on-base — seven singles, three walks, two hit batsmen — in 6.2 innings of work. The Rays scored a run in the first and it appeared like the same ol’ Nova was ready to make this one a laugher before it really got started, but he settled down and followed with five scoreless frames before things unraveled a bit in the seventh. More on that in a second.

Nova threw 68 of 103 pitches were strikes and started 17 of 30 batters faced with a first pitch strike, and he seemed to be relying on his breaking stuff a ton. First pitches, put-away pitches, ahead in the count, behind in the count … it seemed like every important pitch was a breaking ball. Fifty (!!!) of those 103 pitches were breaking balls according to PitchFX, and 32 of those 50 were strikes. Eight of those strikes were swings and misses. Fifty breaking balls is a ton. Hell, half that is a lot for one start.

Anyway, nice very job by Nova in the spot start. He gave the Yankees exactly what they needed and probably more than they expected. I can’t imagine the team will make the decision to re-insert him back into the rotation based on one decent outing, but I’m sure he’ll get another chance before long. Hopefully he’s ready.

(Al Bello/Getty)
NoBoone.jpg (Al Bello/Getty)

Two Outs, Two Strikes … Two Runs
The afternoon was moving along just fine for Nova, who retired the first two men he faced in the seventh without much of a problem. Then he hit Desmond Jennings with two outs. Usually that wouldn’t be a big deal, but the inning snowballed out of control after that. Nova plunked Ben Zobrist with an 0-2 breaking ball to put two on with two outs, then Shawn Kelley came out of the bullpen to walk Evan Longoria on five pitches to load the bases.

Joe Girardi summoned Boone Logan out of the bullpen to face the left-handed James Loney with two outs, and the southpaw quickly jumped ahead in the count 1-2. Instead of burying the put-away slider in the dirt or off the plate away, Logan hung it middle-middle and Loney lined it back up the box for a two-run, two-strike, two-out single. That proved to be the difference in the game.

Nearly halfway through the season, lefties are hitting .295/.311/.432 against the team’s only lefty reliever. If Logan doesn’t show some improvement soon, the Yankees are going to have to think about adding a second southpaw to the bullpen for those important late-inning matchup spots.

Robinson Cano was very aware Jose Molina was running on this GIDP.

If the Rays hadn’t scored in the seventh, this game would have gone about 20 innings. The Yankees scored their only run on a hard-hit Cano sacrifice fly in the very first inning, but after that they only had four players reach second base. None reached third base and the final eight batters they sent to the plate made outs. Just two of their final 16 batters reached base. After back-to-back games of 6+ runs, it was back to offensive incompetence on Sunday.

After starting his big league career with 14 straight walk-less appearances, Preston Claiborne has now walked four batters in his last five outings. Nine men have reached base across four innings in those five games. Joba Chamberlain, meanwhile, had just his second scoreless appearance in his last six outings. Kelley and Logan each allowed the only he faced to reach base, so the bullpen combined for five base-runners in 2.1 innings in relief of Nova. Yuck.

Brett Gardner continues to be outstanding atop the lineup, going 3-for-4 with a double on Sunday. He’s hitting .339/.378/.514 over the last month, but with only two steals in four attempts. Only eleven steals nearly halfway through the season? Weird. Anyway, Zoilo Almonte went 2-for-4 with two doubles while the rest of the lineup went a combined 2-for-24 (.083) with six strikeouts.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stuff, and ESPN the updated standings. The Red Sox lost and the surging Blue Jays — they’ve won eleven straight, you know — destroyed the Orioles, so the Yankees are tied with Baltimore and one back of Boston in the loss column. Toronto is just two back (!) while Tampa is three back.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
For the third consecutive week, the Yankees are off on Monday. The Rangers are coming to the Bronx for a three-game series starting Tuesday night, when countrymen Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish square off in the opener. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the tenth matchup of Japanese-born starting pitchers in baseball history in person. At least I think it’s the tenth such matchup; my count is unofficial.

DePaula strikes out six in first High-A start
Fan Confidence Poll: June 24th, 2013
  • ADG

    I was watching the YES broadcast when Logan got brought in. Someone (not sure who, might’ve been Cone) was talking about how Logan had established himself as one of the top LHP RP in the American League and about 5 seconds later Loney singled in the runners. Needless to say everyone stayed quiet after that.

    • stuart a

      It was COne with that ludicrous statement on Bafoon Logans effectiveness.

      1 of the best lefties, laughable..before the hit to Loney it was laughable…

  • http://www.penuel-law.com/ Cuso

    I just hope that this start doesn’t fool the braintrust into thinking Nova should be in the rotation.

    Worst case scenario, they decide that Nova should be back up so they can put Phelps back in the pen.

    DON’T DO THAT!!!!!

    • forensic

      I’d be fine if he was in the rotation for now. Just not for Phelps.

      • WhittakerWalt

        I’d be fine with trying him for another start, with Hughes going to the bullpen. Expectations are not very high, however.

    • trr

      I don’t think they will. We will need more than 5 starters as the year progresses, anyway..

    • Bob Buttons

      Worst case scenario is they trade for a big name pitcher, send Nova to the pen and trade away Phelps as part of a deal for Alfonso Soriano.

      • Frank

        That’s not happening.

    • Frank

      Wait, Phelps to the BP? And Hughes stays in the rotation? You can’t be serious.

  • trr

    It’s obvious that it’s very difficult for us to stay competitive with this lineup. Adams and Romine are not MLB players.
    (At least, not yet) Overbay , Hafner, Wells have regressed to the mean, and sadly, below it. Nix is a 25th man type grossly overexposed by playing every day. There are no other options , unless Mustelier can give us a Z-like boost.
    We’ve got to rely on the pitching to keep us within, say, 5 game until the injured return, and hope that those additions will be enough in the ultra competitive AL East. Here’s hoping…..

  • Eddard

    Nova should be in the rotation, not for Phelps but for Hughes. Even Nova can pitch better than a 5.09 ERA. He looked good today. If he’s got his breaking ball he can put away hitters. Unfortunately, he went to the well once too often against Zorbrist and it cost him.

    This may allow Hughes to flourish down in the bullpen in that 7th inning role. Maybe he can capture some of the magic he had in 09 and they can lock down 7-8-9 without Boone Logan or Joba Chamberlain.

    Adams needs to go as soon as Mustelier is healthy.

    Almonte needs to bat in the 2 hole so his doubles aren’t wasted. Ride the hot hand. 7-8-9 is currently a black hole. And Hafner/Overbay aren’t doing much either.

    • LK

      Nova definitely can pitch better than a 5.09 ERA. Just look at his 5.02 ERA last year for proof.

      • Eddard

        That is still better. And of course you left out his 2011 season, better season than Hughes has ever had starting. Hughes has set the bar so low that just about anybody could come in and do better.

        • LK

          Over 200 IP, the difference between a 5.09 ERA and a 5.02 ERA is less than half a run. 2012 Ivan Nova = 2013 Phil Hughes.

          It’s funny you say that I left out Nova’s 2011 season, considering you left out Hughes’ 2012 season, when he had a 4.23 ERA, better than Nova’s 2012, 2013, and career ERA.

          Hughes has set the bar low enough that just about anybody could be better. Nova has set the bar equally low. If you want to replace one with the other, sure, go for it. I don’t see any reason to expect it to change anything though. Hughes’ career ERA is 4.47; Nova’s is 4.43. They’re also only half a year apart in age. This just isn’t something to get worked up over either way.

          • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

            And an added consideration (but probably not much of one, Nova’s performance considered) is I think Nova only needs to be optioned for about 3 weeks longer to gain an extra year of team control. Of course that could also happen if/when Pineda is ready.

          • jimmy james

            Nicely done, LK. I agree 100%. Eddard you seem to conveniently omit pertinent information when making your case. That being said, Nova and Hughes are basically the same pitcher and neither really deserve a rotation spot, but someone has to fill it…right now, Hughes has more of a track record, while Nova still has a chance to hone is stuff down in AAA, where W/L don’t matter. It’s a simply decision, really…

          • Anderson Silva

            Thing is, Nova has a lot better stuff than Hughes. Guys like that can put it together at any time.

            Sure, chances are he never puts it together, but there’s more ceiling with Nova than Hughes there.

    • WhittakerWalt

      Seriously, don’t get your hopes up. Nova walked the tightrope today. 12 baserunners.

    • mustang (The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)
      • mustang (The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

        I guess it did work, weird, disregard below.

    • mustang (The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

      I try to link all the comments you made on the game thread saying the same Nova for Hughes but for some reason I can’t link them all. Hint….. Fucking …… hint

      That was 6 comments repeating the Nova/Hughes thing and 2 on Almonte in the 2 hole.

      Just because you repeat here MANY times would make it so although I wish to God that it did for the great good of us all.

      • mustang (The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

        wouldn’t not would.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      Nova as a starter this season: 5.79 ERA.
      Last I checked, that’s not better than 5.09.
      He can pitch better than that.
      So can Hughes.
      It’s entirely possible Nova does worse than Hughes.
      (Not that I’d mind terribly if Hughes goes to the bullpen and Nova to the rotation until Pineda is ready)

      • Greg

        How much are you banking on Nova sustaining a .440 BABIP?

        There’s more to the story than ERA, you guys.

        • jimmy james

          With the way he hangs his offspeed stuff? Yeah, a .440 BABIP is sustainable.

        • LK

          OK, Nova has a career 4.22 FIP. Hughes’ is 4.28. Nova’s was 4.60 in 2012; Hughes’ was 4.56.

          Seriously, this is not something to spend a lot of time caring about.

        • mustang (The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)


          All this and then some.

  • Commenter From the Future

    What a great Old Timer’s Day this was! All the greats like Mo, Jeter, Price, Harper and, finally, after all these years, Posada shows up!

    I have to put up with seeing Jayson Nix trot out ever year during Old Timer’s Day, having old-ass Kay introduce him as “wah wah a professional ballplayer through and through,” and NOW is when I get Posada??! Does anyone even remember Jayson Nix even playing for the Yankees?!

    Really nice win today. It’s rare to see a starter go four anymore.

    • Pat D

      Wasn’t Trout there?

      • Commenter From the Future

        Best to not mention him.

        • Pat D

          Sounds positively ominous.

    • forensic

      Does anyone even remember Jayson Nix even playing for the Yankees?!

      Just that one time he broke Mo during BP.

      • Commenter From the Future

        I have no clue what that means. Broke, as in he left him in there for too long? God, that takes me back to Hughes as manager. Now there’s a guy who couldn’t manage his way out of a ultrashrinking carrying parcel.

    • vicki

      you’re the king.

  • WhittakerWalt

    “You just want to put good at-bats together, we’re doing that, we’re just not, um, you know, putting the, you know, getting the big hit every single night…”

    – Chris Stewart

    I’d be interested in knowing more about these “good at-bats” he mentioned.

    • vicki

      i want him to go away.

      • SDB

        I’m learning to tolerate, even like Chris Stewart a bit more.

        Austin Romine’s incompetence at the plate may be the best thing to happen to Stewart in some time.

  • mustang (The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

    I know its way to soon but how long will J.R. Murphy have to keep his hot hitting going to get called up ?

    • forensic

      At least 9 more months.

      • mustang (The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)



  • fred robbins

    just wondering if anyone remembers the last time Cano won a ball game for the Yankees or the last time Long got a lefty out. Girardi will just keep using him because he is a lefty instead of going with someone who might be better able to get an out. Logan continues to throw soft easy to hit curves that hang over the plate. I have seen it time after time and can not watch when he is brought into a game. This lefty righty lefty match up thing is just ridiculous, at least when your lone lefty is not that good. Closers stay in against everyone, but for some reason, that logic does not seem to work any other inning.. it is mind boggling.

    • Mouse

      True but the offense is still the problem right now. 3 runs shouldn’t be too much to overcome but yet it is with this offense.

      Cano has no protection. Hafner and his .212 batting average cannot be considered protection. If Joe is smart he’d move Hafner (and Overbay) each down one spot and put the hottest hitter (and probably most feared by the opposing manager) right now, Almonte behind Cano.

      They only have 2 dependable bats day in and day out in Gardner and Cano. Everyone else has been playing like garbage and cannot be considered dependable on a daily basis. The Nix’s, Stewart’s, Wells, Hafner’s, Overbay’s and even Ichiro unreliable bats are what’s killing them.

  • ExitCashman

    1. If Robbie knew that J. Molina was running, I suppose that means other infielders know that Robbie’s not running when he hits a ground ball to them
    2. Instead of worrying about Nova and Phelps, just release one of them. The Blue Jays still need starting pitching.

    I love Monday mornings.

  • vicki

    do it for me, zack.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Six innings and change does not a rotation change make. I’m glad it was a good start for Nova. 2014 will go much better if he gets his head out his ass. Thanks to those who backed up that there’s little difference between recent performance between the two above, just in case anyone was taking Eddard seriously. Ask Nuney what a fickle friend that guy is.

    For now, though? I still keep Hughes in there, and I probably would until Pineda is ready. If that takes longer than we thought, and both Hughes and Nova continue to trend the way we seem to be assuming they will (which I bet won’t stay this way, unless you like AAA numbers), then you reconsider.

    My patience is long since faded with both of them.

    I’d also say I’d rather start Wang right now than either of them, but that’s be whining, and we already have enough of that on here.

    • mustang (The Has Been & Wannabes Bunch 2013)

      Agree 100%.

      Especially with the ” My patience is long since faded with both of them.”

  • fred robbins

    Hey Mouse… I agree with most of what you say… BUT THE PROTECTION idea…. if you use that logic, you are saying a pitcher should not be expected to pitch well without run support. Good hitters hit, good pitchers pitch… Shields is pitching like an ace without any runs– same usually for Kershaw… same for a good handful of the best pitchers out there- they go out and do their job. Cano does not have to swing at balls 3 feet off the plate because he has no protection. I did see he got 4 walks the other day. But I believe he is close to being under .270 and yet is going to be the all star 2nd baseman.

    And you are 100% correct. The Yankees have not bats. It hurts every time to see a Tiger game and see Tori Hunter-who would have loved to come to the Yankees- but Yanks said no because of his desire for 2 years.. Instead the brilliant Yankee brain trust gave 2 years to Wells, a year to a habitually hurt Youk, and 2 years to Ichiro. How in the world does that make any sense?
    I see Ibanez has 17 home runs and 15 of them in clutch 2 out situations. I don’t even think ending up in last place will help the Yankees as it seems ownership has no honest desire to put a team out there that will inspire fans and show some heart.
    First start in a long time for Nova, and he had not reached the 7th inning yet, so why put him out there for the 7th. We all know by now, that Yankee relievers only do well when starting an inning– I guess we all know that but Joey Binder

  • stuart a

    put nova out there for the 7th because he was damn effective.

    assuming the worse is ludicrous and his pitch count was not overly high.