Ivan Nova has been a little bit of a mystery for the New York Yankees since getting called up during the 2010 season. His career has been inconsistent, with him even getting sent down to the minors for a little bit in July of this past season. The Yankees are relying on Nova to become more consistent and be a legitimate no. 3 starter. However, there isn’t any guarantee Nova will correct his inconsistencies and take this role that the Yankees need in order to make a deep playoff run.
With there not being a whole lot of starting rotation depth, the Yankees are going all i- with Nova. They really have no choice in the matter. Nova has had stretches of dominant pitching which has shown that he can be an important piece in a starting rotation, but he has yet to put together consecutive above-average seasons.
In 2011, which was Nova’s rookie season, he had a respectable 3.70 ERA in 165.1 innings pitched, winning 16 games for the Yankees. His peripheral numbers such as K/9, BB/9, K/BB and WHIP were not great, but as a rookie pitching in the AL East, he did a pretty good job.
2012 was an utter disaster as Nova came back down to earth, pitching to a 5.02 ERA while giving up well over a hit per inning. Nova was back to pitching well again in 2013, especially during the second half of the year. He compiled a 2.78 ERA in 87.1 innings pitched.
When looking at the totality of his first three seasons, Nova’s numbers do not look that bad as he has a 4.00 ERA while striking out around seven batters per nine innings, walking around three per nine innings and giving up more than a hit per inning. Those numbers are good, but maybe not what third starter’s numbers should be.
If you have watched Nova pitch in person, your eyes can justify what you see on paper. He has had flashes of brilliance, but has a tendency to get frustrated and lose control of innings. Nova has a lot of talent, but a big reason why his strikeouts, walks, hits allowed and BAA numbers are not great is because he is still basically a two-pitch pitcher. Nova has a nasty fastball and dominating curveball, but he lacks the consistency of a third pitch.
Nova’s arsenal can get through a lineup easily for the first time, but getting through it a second and third time has presented problems for him. The Yankees need Nova to continue evolving as a pitcher, continue working to develop a consistent third pitch and make that next step to being a dependable third starter. Let’s see if Nova can make it happen.