Writing about the potential postseason pitching staff two weeks ago, I wrote that it might make sense to leave Ivan Nova out of the mix. I suggested the Yankees could keep Nova working as an emergency starter rather than use him as a back-of-the-rotation playoff reliever, and that might still be an option, but I’m less convinced of it today than I was 12 days ago.
Nova’s shown quite bit these past two starts. He’s shown a lot about his potential, and a lot about his lack of experience.
“You’re going to go through some bumps to figure out exactly how you pitch in games that are tight,” Joe Girardi said. “How you pitch in games when you have a big lead. How you pitch in games where maybe you’re getting roughed up early and how you settle down. I think that’s a learning process that all young starters go through.”
Nova’s fifth inning last week and sixth inning last night prove he’s not a finished product, but against a good Rays team, Nova has twice rolled through the lineup without much problem before suddenly hitting a wall. His starts have been impressive before they’ve been bad, and that’s enough to wonder if he could help the Yankees in a big spot out of the pen. He seems to become more and more of an option as the Yankees continue to avoid Javier Vazquez, Sergio Mitre and Royce Ring.
If Nova could figure out what’s causing his starts to suddenly fall apart — he said he wasn’t sure what caused the problem last night — he could make the Yankees decision easy.
“If I’ve been pitching good, it’s got to be a minor thing,” Nova said. “It’s not going to be something big.”