Ivan Nova can either be one of the best pitchers in the New York Yankees‘ rotation or be spending half the summer down in the Minor leagues.
That is what he experienced in 2013 as the 27-year old pitcher went through a wild, up and down season in which he had an ERA over six after April, got sent down to the minors for three starts and eventually finished out the season in the Bronx. He got so good after that dreadful month that he was even named the AL Pitcher of the Month in August.
That is the type of ability and skill that he can bring to the mound every fifth day for the Yankees. Unfortunately, there is definitely not a large enough sample size of his success to fully trust him. He might pick up right where he left off at the end of the last season and be a dominant pitcher or he might start off year the way he did in 2013.
His start against the Philadelphia Phillies today is a perfect example of his time in MLB thus far. There were glimmers of brilliance, such as striking out six batters over only five innings, but there were also some big concerns like giving up nine hits over those five innings. If it is any consolation, Nova somehow only gave up three runs despite all of those hits, so it does show that he was able to get the crucial outs when it was necessary.
Nova provides the biggest upside and downside for the Yankees in 2014. When he is good, New York will have a pitcher who has the skills to be a pitcher of the month candidate, but when he is bad, he is better served as a long reliever or minor league pitcher. And if the Yankees want to have a successful season, then they better hope for the Nova of August 2013 and not April of 2013.