On Friday, the New York Yankees activated pitcher Ivan Nova from the 15-day disabled list. Instead of inserting the right-hander into the starting rotation, the Yankees announced they’re using him out of the bullpen and keeping David Phelps and Vidal Nuno in the starting five. This is the right decision.
Phelps spent all of last year pitching out of the bullpen. While he was very effective in that role, it’s clear he has the stuff, command and the poise to be a starter.
In his five starts this season, Phelps hasn’t give up more than four runs and has given the Yankees innings, averaging 6.1 per start. The team is also 4-1 in games started by the Notre Dame alum. Now that Phelps is fully stretched out and is becoming more accustomed to starting in the bigs, I think we’re going to start to see Phelps take his game to a whole new level.
Nuno, whose stint in the rotation will most likely be a short one as the return of Andy Pettitte is imminent, has cruised through the minor leagues the last few seasons. The 25-year-old has pitched to just over a 2.00 era in over 200 innings since 2011.
This certainly sounds like someone who is deserving of the opportunity. It may only be for a few starts, but it gives him a little taste of how far he has come and how close he really is to being a full-time big-league starter.
Nova, on the other hand, deserves the opposite. The 26-year-old has struggled mightily the last two seasons. In 2013, he’s given the Yankees just four innings per start, while pitching to an abysmal 6.48 era.
His command of his fastball has been the biggest concern, as he’s left it in the upper half of the zone far too often. Nova’s breaking ball, which we became accustomed to seeing dive hard out of the zone, also appears to have regressed. Instead of the hard break, recently it appears to just roll through the zone. The time in the bullpen will give him a chance to regain the feel of these pitches and work his way back, something he deserves to have to do.