Is Ivan Nova a good young pitcher having an inconsistent season? Is he an inconsistent pitcher who had a good rookie year? Is he a bottom-of-the-rotation starter who occasionally pitches like a No. 2? Is he a No. 3 starter who occasionally pitches like minor leaguer? Does he have a future in this organization?
“I think you can look at his last two starts and it’s kind of been how his year was,” Joe Girardi said. “He started out great, reeled off a bunch of good starts together, then he kind of went through a funk. Got hurt, came back, had a good start and then a not-so-good start. Tonight’s important. It’s important for us.”
Tonight Nova makes what should be his next-to-last start of the season. Two weeks ago, he was terrific in his return from a sore shoulder. Over the weekend, he was horrible against Oakland. Last year’s second half put him in the Rookie of the Year mix. This year’s second half has him facing uncertainty in the postseason (assuming he makes the postseason roster at all).
There are a lot of unanswered questions with Nova, and one start won’t answer all of them. But right now, the Yankees are in a division race, and they need him tonight.
“This is a tough game,” Girardi said. “It’s a game of adjustments. It’s a game of consistency. Some years are just going to be better years for guys than others. Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason. Sometimes it just happens. I know he’s working. I know he’s giving me everything he’s got, so there’s no disappointment. … If he can continue to improve and refine the consistency of his pitches, he’s got good stuff.”
• Alex Rodriguez is at designated hitter tonight and won’t even go through drills in the field. That said, Girardi said it’s entirely possible Rodriguez will be back at third base tomorrow. “Let’s take it one day at a time,” Rodriguez said.
• Girardi also plans to give Derek Jeter “at least” one DH day during this series. “I would like to,” Girardi said. “We’ll have to see. Sometimes plans change because of other people.”
• Mark Teixeira played in a simulated game in Tampa today. He got seven at-bats and played one inning in the field. “Reported that he felt pretty good, and then I’m not sure if he’ll do it again tomorrow, or take a day off,” Girardi said.
• There’s no chance Teixeira will join the Yankees tomorrow. That’s probably obvious, but wanted to clarify.
• Eric Chavez said he’s not hurt at all — he actually was completely puzzled as to why I was even asking — which makes this simply a day of rest despite a right-hander on the mound.
• Brett Gardner is scheduled to take two rounds of live batting practice today. Girardi said he’s still not sure whether Gardner can become a hitter for him by the end of the season. “I really don’t know,” Girardi said. “I don’t think we’ll know until we go through a few days here. Even back then, it wasn’t until he got in games that you really know. I want to see it. I’m curious to see how he does here.”
Associated Press photos