If you were wondering how Ivan Nova would do against Low-A hitters, today was your lucky day.
Pitching against Low-A Charleston in a minor league intrasquad game, Nova went eight scoreless innings this morning. He threw 91 pitches, walked one and struck out 10. His curveball was pretty much unhittable — probably a combination of that pitch being really sharp today and low-level hitters rarely seeing a breaking ball quite like it.
“Besides this one right here that I threw today, every time I come down here I get hit,” Nova said. “I used to come down here and work on my fastball command. Today, I came ready to work on my offspeed: my curveball, my changeup, my two-seamer. I work really good today, and I got a good result.”
Nova ended each of his first three innings with a big breaking ball for a swinging strike three. He pitch had a lot of side-to-side movement — and there wasn’t a velocity reading on the scoreboard — so I thought it was a slider, but it was apparently his curveball. It was moving a lot today. He struck out the side in the third inning and stranded a couple of base runners in the fourth.
“The changeup this spring has been a really good pitch,” Nova said. “And I continue to throw the way I’ve thrown my changeup, I think it will help a lot this season”
About the rotation
Girardi said he’s made his fifth starter decision, but he hasn’t talked to all the parties involved. He expects to have that done by tomorrow, at which point he’ll announce the decision. Because no decision has been announced, the Yankees have not announced a starter for Tuesday (it should be David Phelps’ turn, but whether he starts the game likely depends on whether he’s in the rotation).
Spring bullpen standout Chris Leroux will start Wednesday’s game before the Yankees go with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, getting them lined up for the first three games of the regular season. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch again at some point down here, but Girardi didn’t say when or where. He said it’s possible Nova could pitch in a minor league game on Saturday so that Tanaka can pitch in the major league game that day.
About the bullpen
No bullpen announcement will happen tomorrow. In fact, the Yankees could go until the weekend before announcing which relievers will break camp. Girardi said it’s entirely possible that all three leftover fifth starter candidates could end up in the bullpen. Mark Newman said the minor league system has plenty of upper-level rotation possibilities and doesn’t necessarily need one of those guys to be sent down to fill out the Triple-A rotation. Would the Yankees want a guy like Adam Warren or Vidal Nuno to stay stretched out?
“It’s something that we’ve talked about,” Girardi said. “The important thing to me is taking what we feel is the best 12 guys. It’s something we got to talk about a little bit tomorrow.”
About the backup catcher
Francisco Cervelli threw out another base stealer today. He also had two hits (that I saw anyway, when Nova wasn’t pitching I was trying to see a bunch of different guys and might have missed a Cervelli at-bat). One of Cervelli’s hits was crushed to center field. Went off the batters eye for a double. He’s had a tremendous spring, and it seems hard to believe he won’t break camp as the backup catcher. That announcement could come in the next few days.
“Pretty soon, probably,” Girardi said. “That’s another thing we may wait to announce but we’re pretty sure of what we’re going to do. … (Cervelli) came into spring training extremely prepared and has played well every time he’s went out. He’s been consistent. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s playing at the level he was before he got hurt last year.”
About the injured guys
Jacoby Ellsbury is still on track to play in a minor league game tomorrow. He’s scheduled to DH to get some at-bats. Seems possible that he could jump into a major league game on Wednesday if things go as expected tomorrow.
Still no word on when Brendan Ryan will get back in a game.
“I know he’s feeling better,” Girardi said. “I’m going to go over and see Stevie today. He had treatment today. But he is feeling beter. It was good to see him yesterday. I told you when I saw him on that Friday he looked horrible.”
Pretty rocky cell phone photography