Fans of the New York Yankees have been waiting every year since 2011 for pitcher Ivan Nova to take the next step in becoming a top of the rotation guy. Everyone knows he has the stuff, but consistency has hindered him from climbing the rank to being an ace. After Nova’s dreadful start to the 2014 season, the 27-year-old righty has proven he will never be more than average.
A top of the rotation pitcher takes the ball every fifth day and the team knows what he will bring every time — Nova has not been that. Over the course of his career, Nova’s month-to-month ERA has been about as consistent as Alex Rodriguez‘s playing time. Along with his irregularities, Nova has yet to endure the length of a 162-game season without hitting the disabled list. Every year since 2012, Nova has been on the 15-day DL at one point or another.
In his most recent outing, Nova exited in the bottom of the fifth inning with elbow soreness. The Dominican native surrendered eight runs to the Tampa Bay Rays while giving up four home runs, the most in a single game in his career. Two of his earned runs were credited after his departure, as reliever Matt Daley imploded on the mound and allowed both runners Nova had left on base to score.
Nova’s most recent injury will still be a major blow to the team as he is the best option the Yankees have among the alternatives of Vidal Nuno, David Phelps or possibly Alfredo Aceves to stand-in during his absence. However, after the subpar beginning to his fourth full season in MLB, I believe Yankees fans are safe to let go of whatever pending optimism is being held for Nova’s unlikely crescendo.
Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda are playing the game with ease and represent the bright future for the Yankees’ pitching staff. I wouldn’t go as far to say that Nova will bust similarly to Phil Hughes, but ultimately his impact will not outreach Hughes’ by much. Yankee fans will hope I’m wrong, but I think if the real Nova was imminent, he should have already arrived in this, his fourth major-league season.