Tonight the next question in a question-heavy rotation comes to light. Ivan Nova takes the ball for the 2-1 Yankees in the opener of a four-game series against the Twins at Yankee Stadium.
The 24-year-old rookie righty flashed some potential at the tail end of last season, going 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA over 10 games, including seven starts. Then he posted a 1.80 ERA in five Grapefruit League starts. That included his six no-hit innings against the Orioles on March 16. Nova has a good arm and confidence. Now the Yankees need to see consistency in the real games. And they need to see him hold up the second and third times through the order.
Russell Martin will guide him through from behind the plate. He liked the look of the slider Nova was working on in spring training.
“For me, the key is to keep it simple,” Martin said. “He’s really good when he works his fastball down in the zone and just finds a way to get the breaking ball over for a strike to keep the hitters off his fastball.”
Do you believe Nova has what it takes to hold down this fourth-starter job? I have a feeling he could turn out to be pretty good, but we’ll see soon enough.
The Yankees will go with CC Sabathia on regular rest Tuesday night, then work in fifth-starter Freddy Garcia Wednesday night, another question mark on display. A.J. Burnett will take the ball for the series finale Thursday. Scott Baker, Brian Duensing, Carl Pavano and Francisco Liriano will start for the Twins, who have dropped 17 of the last 19 against the Yankees, including the three-game sweeps in the division series the last two years.
Here are my reports on what happened yesterday, from Phil Hughes’ search for his old fastball to Jorge Posada adjusting to the DH role and Mark Teixeira getting off to a nice start.