Ivan Nova has partially torn UCL

(Brian Blanco/Getty)

(Brian Blanco/Getty)

It appears the Yankees have lost one of their starters for an extended period of time. Ivan Nova has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, the Yankees announced. Yes, that is the Tommy John surgery ligament. He will be re-evaluated in New York tomorrow, during the team’s off-day.

Nova, 27, left yesterday’s start with a sore elbow and was sent for tests. He reportedly did not complain of any pain, and it wasn’t until he shook him arm following a pitch that Joe Girardi and the rest of the staff took notice. Nova tried to talk his way into remaining in the game but that wasn’t going to happen. “It’s hard. I don’t even know what to tell you guys. I’m so sad right now that I’m not going to be pitching,” he said to Erik Boland.

This is Nova’s fourth arm injury in the last four years. He suffered a forearm strain during the 2011 postseason, shoulder inflammation in August 2012, and triceps inflammation last April. Nova is a breaking ball heavy pitcher, throwing his curveball and/or slider at least 31% of the time the last three years. That’s usually bad news for the elbow.

Nova may try to rehab the injury but that rarely seems to work. Chad Billingsley and Matt Harvey both tried to rehab partially torn UCLs only to wind up having Tommy John surgery, for example. There has been a lot of talk recently — from people like Dr. James Andrews, not schmucks like me — about the elbow reconstruction rehab process being too aggressive these days. The prescribed rehab time is 12-18 months, so if the Nova does need surgery, we might not see him again until the 2015 All-Star break.

It’s unclear who will replace Nova in the rotation right now. Vidal Nuno is making a spot start today and thanks to tomorrow’s off-day, he’d line up perfectly to replace Nova. David Phelps is another option, but he isn’t stretched out. Adam Warren has settled into a one-inning setup role and it’s tough to see him moving into the rotation. Doesn’t mean it won’t happen though. Triple-A starters include veterans Bruce Billings, Al Aceves, and Chris Leroux. We’ll see. Either way, Nova probably isn’t returning anytime soon.

Categories : Injuries


  1. Nick says:

    trade for Lee

  2. will says:

    His last start commenters on Lohud mentioned he was wincing and arm angle changed. I wonder if it was just starting then…

    • RetroRob says:

      It’s not uncommon for pitchers heading toward a UCL injury to show signs prior, including reduced velocity, loss of effectiveness with their breaking pitches, etc. it could be one or two starts, could go on for a month or two before it completely blows. Of course, with Nova it’s difficult to say since he goes through periods like that normally.

  3. GeneralChaos says:

    The Yankees pitching staff was one injury away from a disaster, here it is.

    • CountryClub says:

      Losing one starter is not a disaster.

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      Yeah, it’s an absolute disaster. It’s not like they have two 25-year-old pitchers who have combined to allow 7ER in 40 innings while striking out 43 and walking 5. Oh wait they totally do have that…but you know they’re young/inexperienced, what they really need is an anchor. It’s too bad they don’t have a strong veteran who is good for 200 innings a season and quietly pitches like an ace. Oh wait, totally got one of those too. I can see what you mean though, losing a number 4 starter is an absolute disaster.

      • Chip Rodriguez says:

        This is such a disaster that Greg has now tabbed us to lose 159 of the remaining 144 games.

      • BronxBombers says:

        To be fair…..Nova was the #5 starter with the way he was pitching before, and CC is the #4.

        • TheRealGreg says:

          Exactly. We essentially lost our #5 starter.

        • Dalek Jeter says:

          You’re probably right, but I was just speaking about what Nova really is. He’s got the stuff to be better, but for whatever reason; lack of consistant command, maybe some here are right in that he’s got too much/not enough going on upstairs, but when he came up the scouting report said “back end starter,” and that’s what he’s been.

          • Bo Knows says:

            Nova has been a backend starter, but he’s also been a front rotation guy. He’s been good half the time, he’s been bad half the time. He’s had his struggles, part of the inconsistency and injuries might be the fact his ligament has been unstable before finally breaking.

            Also that “mental” thing is so annoying, its mechanics, inconsistent mechanics hamper command

      • Mandy Stankiewicz says:

        Disappointing, yes. But what Dalek said.

      • GeneralChaos says:

        So it all comes down to who picks it up and takes that spot. I just don’t see the proven depth there. Yeah, we only lost our 5th starter, but somebody’s gotta pitch that spot every 5 days.

        • Havok9120 says:

          Proven depth like, say, a guy who has proven effective out of the MLB bullpen for over a year, including in long relief? Or perhaps you want a guy who has been decent as a starter but shown brilliance as a bullpen arm? Maybe a total wildcard who has had pretty darn good results in general but throws soft and is inexperienced?

          We’ve got all three. Plus some others. Just take a breath.

    • Bronx Boy says:

      Disaster? This is the best rotation we’ve had in years and Nova was the weak link.

  4. CountryClub says:

    Easy for me to say, but just get the surgery. The rehab route never seems to work….or at least very rarely.

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      It’s early enough in the season where if he wants to try rehabbing for a month or so and then goes for the surgery anyway he’ll be ready by around the start of next season so I really have no strong feeling one way or the other regarding surgery right away.

      • Billy says:

        I’ve never been a fan of rehabbing this type of injury. It rarely works and if it’s not successful he essentially loses two full years.

  5. Brandon says:

    Stretch out Phelps. Only option right now. Have him pitch a few innings today regardless of what Nuno does.

  6. qwerty says:

    I’m guessing Nuno takes his spot in the rotation.

  7. Al says:

    See ya in 12-14 or after the 2015 All star game

  8. Yuvi says:

    Yesssss!!! He’s gone for the season this arrogant stubborn punk who thinks he’s doing the Yankees a favor! Another Arod-ite gone good riddance.

    Now Yankees will be forced to give another person (maybe overlooked) a chance.

    CLIFF LEE played the Yankees to get a big deal with the Phillies, his wife was spat on by a fan, They don’t like NY, SOOOO stop begging for him.

  9. Chip Rodriguez says:

    Oy vey.

  10. nicknowsky says:

    Not good and not something people should be happy about. Yankee fans have a short memory forgetting about how good he was against Boston last week. Yes he’s been up & down but he’s key part of the rotation

  11. BillyBall15 says:

    It’s time to insert the second lefty into the rotation. It’s manny Banuelos time boys!
    Suck it…….

  12. Macho Man "Randy Levine" says:

    Do the Utley and Lee trade!

    Just not Sanchez. See if they’ll take Murphy.

  13. RetroRob says:

    Don’t have faith that Phelps, Warren or Nuno can hold down the 5th rotation spot for a full year. They’ll all 6th man types, better in the pen and spot starts.

  14. Jamie says:

    Give Pettitte a call…couldn’t hurt

  15. Chip Rodriguez says:

    How soon can we sign Jordan Brink?

  16. Looser Trader Droids Kenobi FotD™ says:

    Wow this stinks. Poor guy.

    As for the team, not panic time, but not a good situation obviously.

  17. TheRealGreg says:

    Not panic time. He wasn’t pitching well anyway.

    Take the surgery.

    Let’s take a look around for another starter.

  18. Ed says:

    Not surprised. He’s had several elbow problems over the years. Kinda expected it after the Detroit playoffs a few years ago.

  19. jjyank says:

    Somewhere, Eddard is cutting himself and crying black tears.

  20. Dalek Jeter says:

    Is anybody having problems with mlbtr? I’m trying to see the available SP’ers but the page won’t load.

  21. Wheels says:

    This sucks. Have to admit that going into spring training, I thought Nova was our best starter.

  22. JonS says:

    lol at some of the trade suggestions. I’m so glad the FO isn’t run by fans.

  23. Bavarian Yankee says:

    sucks. So I guess he won’t be back before 2016 :(

  24. Theonewhoknocks says:

    Bad news. Nova is inconsistent but we will definitely miss those stretches of dominance.

    But with Tanaka, Kuroda, Pineda, Sabathia and Phelps and Nuno I feel the Yankees are well equipped to handle his loss.

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      I’m with RetroRob. Phelps, Nuno, Warren (who is a shortman now anyway), and Mitchell all strike me as “sixth starters.”

      I wouldn’t have a problem going with them a couple times through the rotation…but would really really like to see them add another starter.

  25. Dicka24 says:

    Whether he’s been pitching well or not, losing nova certainly hurts. Even if from a developmental POV. The kid is a mid 20s arm with promise at the major league level, who’s showed as good as #2 to #3 stuff at times so far. It’s a big loss, but it’s not something the team can’t overcome. Between the in house candidates of Nuno, Warren, and Phelps they should be able to band aid their way until/if they opt to look for outside help. The problem is that another injury, or lost starter, could really mean trouble.

    I’d imagine that this would mean added emphasis to signing someone like Hanrahan or Madson maybe. That, or making a play for a veteran reliever somewhere, since moving a Warren/Phelps into either the rotation, or the 6th starter role, would mean an even thinner bullpen.

  26. b says:

    trade the farm for Samardzija and Dan Vogelbach

  27. Captain Turbohiro Tanaka says:

    That sucks but it’s no disaster. I’d look for in-house help until the trade deadline and then try to pick up a quality fifth starter on the cheap.

  28. Dicka24 says:

    MLBTR is down for me too.

    I like what I’ve seen from Sizemore. I think we’ll hear from him a bunch before the seasons over.

    Daley screams AAAA pitcher, doesn’t he? One of those players that crushes it in AAA, and then gets crushed in the majors. Obviously it’s an extremely small sample size, but that’s the initial feeling I get. There simply aren’t too many RH relievers who perform well in the majors, tossing the pill in the mid 80′s. Hope not for his, and the Yankees sake.

    • Bavarian Yankee says:

      “One of those players that crushes it in AAA”

      I don’t know if somebody crushes AAA when he has an ERA of 5.40 and a career AAA ERA of 3.66 in the minors.

  29. JohnC says:

    Need to sign Hanrahan now and move Phelps into the rotation.

  30. Wheels says:

    Funny that there were some comments last night questioning his toughness, calling him a pussy, etc.

  31. Dalek Jeter says:

    Sanchez/Banuelos/Campos for Utley/Lee, Campos is interchangeable with just about every guy in the minors for this trade. I know, mtps, but who hangs up first?

  32. will says:

    You have warren and phelps, i see no reason why if nuno cannot do it, they can’t. it may FORCE girardi to use Betances in non mop up games.

  33. Yangeddard Solarte says:

    Oh my god. He was going to be a lynch pin in this rotation. I think you have to go to BGDP since he has the most experience. With Robertson due back Tuesday that frees up BGDP to go the rotation. Warren/Thorton for the 7th, Kelley for the 8th, Robertson for the 9th. Nuno the long man, Delin and Preston fill in as needed.

  34. Wayne says:

    Bryan Mitchell will eventually join Ivan Nova on the operating table!!!!

  35. kenthadley says:

    Al Aceves will get a shot, I believe, before long.

  36. Well Joe got a few extra pitch’s out of Nova and ended his Year, Nova had no business being left in that game so long! forget lee Nuno will be fine I hope , EH

  37. will says:

    So what’s the deal with Mitchell, he throws 97 i heard?

    • RetroRob says:

      Mitchell could be another Brtsnces type. Great velocity and breaking pitch but little command. Greet to dream on but he’s not ready, may never be ready. He might, however, work well from the pen today.

  38. GeneralChaos says:

    If it isn’t a disaster, it’s close. Given the infield situation, is this really what you need to be dealing with this early in the season? I just wonder how you come out of camp with so many questions.

    • Mike HC says:

      Losing one guy is not a disaster. Almost regardless of even who that one guy is. Last years Yankees were a disaster, where an entire team goes down.

  39. BigLoving says:

    Let’s everyone relaxxxx. You knew one of these guys would go down at some point in the season. It happens to every staff every year. This is why they didn’t trade any young arms.

  40. %^ says:

    Everyone chill the heck out. The Yanks were well prepared for something of this nature. They have a handful of people that can step in. They just need to reorganize. They have Nuno, Phelps or Warren that, as of say, this coming Tuesday, could take a spot in the rotation or the one I’m in favor of, would be Banuelos, but I would expect a move like that to come in May and not now. I could totally see the Yanks eating up 2 weeks with the guys currently on 25 man roster and then calling up Banuelos once his service clock starts ticking (after April 30th). They don’t need to trade for anyone (frankly, who, almost every team has this same issue) and I don’t see a better candidate than 1) Phelps or Warren or 2) Banuelos in the short term.

    Too bad for Nova.

  41. Preston says:

    Nuno, Phelps and Warren will probably all be given a shot at some point. I hope they don’t plan on using Mitchell and his 32 innings at AA as anything more than an emergency arm for the Sox series. Man Ban certainly picked a bad time to blow up in Tampa. Hopefully he rights the ship and gets to Scranton and impresses quick.

  42. vicki says:

    aceves is risen.

  43. Cuso says:

    Knew it when he shook his hand like that it was UCL.

    Hopefully they don’t dwell on a decision and just get it done.

    • RetroRob says:

      Agreed. TJS used to take 18 months for full recovery, an in reality it still does. Players push themselves to come back early, and they certainly can be pitching in a years time, but full recovery takes longer. Nova can help the Yankees next year if all goes well, but probably not until May or so if he has the surgery now, and longer if they try to rehab it and then have surgery. And even at that, they won’t have him back as a member of the rotation for a 30-start season until 2016, not that he’s ever come close to a 30-start season. Yet, to get to that point, he needs to pitch part of next season. Delaying surgery will delay his full recovery.

      The real question, though, is will he ever be a member of the Yankees rotation again. They will need to plan for another starter next year.

  44. mustang says:

    Teixeira in lineup; Claiborne and Mitchell in pen
    TweetLooks like Ivan Nova, Matt Daley and Scott Sizemore are off the roster. Preston Claiborne, Bryan Mitchell and Mark Teixeira are added. Nova, by the way, said he felt a “pop” on his last pitch last night.

    Jacoby Ellsbury CF
    Derek Jeter SS
    Carlos Beltran RF
    Alfonso Soriano DH
    Mark Teixeira 1B
    Yangervis Solarte 3B
    Brett Gardner LF
    Brian Roberts 2B
    John Ryan Murphy C

    LHP Vidal Nuno

    • lou says:

      Brett Gardner LF
      Derek Jeter SS
      Jacoby Ellsbury CF
      Carlos Beltran RF
      Alfonso Soriano DH
      Brian McCann C
      Yangervis Solarte 3B
      Mark Teixeira 1B
      Brian Roberts 2B

      Enough with the resting bull crap. I’m sick n tired of 7 different lineups in 7 days enough already. Yes that’s where I bat Tex.

  45. Mike HC says:

    Damn, this is a decent hit for both this year and next year too. But, if it had to happen to one of our starters …

  46. lou says:

    Sorry Nova is injured I don’t like to see any baseball player suffer any sorta injury. With that said what’s the big deal? Just slap / pick up a reserve out there it seems it’s not big deal with the infield.

  47. RetroRob says:

    I agree partially that this is not a huge hit since Nova was occupying and pitching like the 5th starter. Yet for all his inconsistency, Nova has been an above average league starter in two of his three prior seasons. He has excellent stuff when he’s on. His issue has been consistency, yet as we saw last year, he can be dominant.

    It is that upside potential that is the biggest loss. If he was his normal, hot and cold Nova, but still produced a 110-130 ERA+, that would be fine. None of his replacements — Phelps, Warren or Nuno — are capable of that, and moving one of them to the rotation weakens the pen. And there was always the possibility that Nova could produce for a full season what we saw the second half of last year.

    That collectively is the loss. The Yankees can plug the hole, they can’t replace the potential upside.

    Nope, not a disaster, but not good either.

  48. mustang says:

    Sorry for Nova, but MLB needs to take a look on why this is happening so often.

  49. Farewell Mo says:

    Mo and Pettitte come back in August to shore up the rotation and bullpen for one last run so they can all go out together, like they should, after a parade.

  50. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    Sucks for Nova. Here’s a to speedy recovery and an arm that doesn’t betray him.

    Not great in the short term, as none of our internal options right now excite me, but he is, by far, the least of our five starters. The team figures this out for the long run.

    I fear for our bullpen these next couple of days. Claiborne and Mitchell?

  51. Mikhel says:

    Considering how injuries are treated in the NYY, Nova will wait until mid season to have the surgery, thus he’ll be ready to begin his rehab until the begining of 2016, meaning he’ll be ready to return by mid 2016. If he gets surgery as soon as possible, he would be ready to rehab at the end of 2015′s season and ready to make a comeback in April 2016.

    The man has a partially torn UCL and if he wants to pitch again he needs to have invasive surgery which could be bad news since is not a sure thing that it’ll work, and rehab doesn’t regenerate UCL.

  52. Mike says:

    This is why we have a top 10 Farm, for situations like this. Bring up one of the killer B’s until Nova gets back.

  53. panos says:

    nice job by joe keeping kid in until he blew out his arm. he did not have it. get him out. that is why teams have bullpens.

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