In 2011, Ivan Nova gave us the impression that he would be a star. In just his second major league season, Nova pitched his way to a 16-4 record, while posting an ERA of just 3.70.
But in 2012, Nova fell off the wagon after he couldn’t seem to find his footing. He was very inconsistent and just couldn’t put together consecutive good outings. There was no doubt that he had good stuff, it was just a matter of putting it all together.
After managing to pick up 12 wins against eight losses with an ugly ERA of 5.02, Nova came into 2013 looking to figure things out and try once again to return to his 2011 form.
He started the season in the New York Yankees rotation, but suffered inflammation in his right arm during a start against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 26. Nova hadn’t been pitching very well up to that point, so his loss wasn’t a bad thing for the Yankees.
When Nova was ready to come back, David Phelps had taken his place in the rotation and was pitching well enough to keep his place, forcing Nova to the bullpen. Eventually, Nova was pushed down to Triple-A, until being called up for a spot start against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 23.
From there on out, Nova hasn’t faulted. He tossed a pair of solid relief outings in June, and then was given a chance to start for the Yankees when Hiroki Kuroda was dealing with soreness in his hip.
July 5 against the Baltimore Orioles, Nova pitched in one of the best games I’ve ever seen, giving up just two runs on three hits, while striking out 11 in the complete-game effort, earning the victory after the Yankees would go on to walk it off in the bottom of the ninth.
But is hasn’t stopped there. In four July starts, Nova has gone at least seven innings in each, while only giving up three runs against the Texas Rangers last Monday, two runs to the Kansas City Royals on July 10, one run against the Orioles and then just today, one run against the Rays in seven innings of work.
In those four starts, Nova has dropped his ERA from 4.09 to 3.41. He’s pitching deep into games – exactly what a manager wants from his starter – and he’s undoubtedly sealed his spot in the rotation for when Phelps returns off the DL from his arm injury.
Early on in the season, you almost didn’t know what to expect to get from Nova when he took the mound, you knew he had the ability to be good, but you couldn’t be sure he would show that off.
But recently, he’s returned to being the pitcher that the Yankees hoped he would be: dominating stuff, fantastic performances and the ability to lead the rotation. C.C. Sabathia may be gone, but Ivan Nova is back.
Gavin Ewbank is a writer for RantSports.com. Follow @GavinEwbank2013 on Twitter or more Yankees talk.