With just two rotation spots set for the 2014 season, the New York Yankees are entering the offseason with C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova as their only sure starters for the 2014 season. The Yankees figure to be very active in free agency and would like to see Hiroki Kuroda return and are rumored to be going hard after Masuhiro Tanaka. However, the Yankees will need to count on Nova to finally take that step and emerge as a consistent pitcher in the rotation.
Nova, who will turn 27 in January, looked like he was doing just that in 2011 when he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He was the Yankees’ second starter in the playoffs and pitched very well in the Game 1 continuation against the Detroit Tigers, leading many to raise expectations for him entering 2012.
In 2012, Nova fell flat. He won 12 games but posted a 5.02 ERA and was sent down to the minors at one point to straighten him out which seemed to have an impact. The expectations which had been tempered returned for 2013. Nova, however, responded poorly and again was sent down to Triple-A to work out the kinks. When he came back up he was used a reliever for a few games before he was pushed back into the rotation where he continued to pitch well. Nova would finish the year with a 9-6 record, 3.10 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and three complete games, two of them shutouts.
It was highly encouraging to see Nova pitch consistently well down the stretch. Once again, he will enter a new season with high expectations, perhaps the highest of his career as he is just one of two starters guaranteed a rotation spot right now. The Yankees are going to need Nova to pitch like he did down the stretch last year if they are to have any hope of returning to the playoffs. They can’t afford another inconsistent start because Nova can’t be sent down to the minors anymore since he is out of options.
The 2014 season will definitely be the make or break year for Nova. He will need to be consistent and pitch like he did last year. The Yankees can’t afford to give him time to work out any kinks that rise up. Nova will have to take the next step and finally emerge as a reliable member of the Yankee rotation or he could find himself on the trade block.