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Ivan Nova’s Sudden Success in the Bronx

Ivan Nova (Leon Halip/Getty Images)

With September baseball around the corner, nothing makes it “under the radar” in the Bronx. Some players will step up and be glorified, while others will be unable to escape the scrutiny of the fans and media for falling short. Pitching will decide the division race in the AL East and ace, C.C Sabathia, can only pitch every five days.

Luckily for the Yankees, their rotation has been a surprisingly successful squad thus far in the season. In Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, and Ivan Nova the Yankees started the year with three bargain value question marks in spring training. With little to lose and everything to gain, the Yankees ended up with three quality starters accounting for just 3 million dollars of their 2011 payroll. Overshadowed by the Yankee offense, their success on the mound has hardly been celebrated, but no one has delivered as quietly and as composed as Nova.

Super Nova

Posting a 12-3 minor league record and a 2.86 ERA in 2010, it should not have come as much of a surprise that Ivan Nova’s success would translate into the big leagues. An unimpressive major league stint in 2010 however, shrouded that prospect for success with doubt. Then, when opportunity knocked after a quiet Yankee offseason, Nova earned a spot on the rotation and quietly posted a 10-4 record with a 3.81 ERA in 18 starts. Lacking the flashy strikeouts and radar gun readings, Nova used his sinking two seam fastball and  pitch placement to win games through ground balls and low walk totals. Pounding the bottom of the strike zone, while exhibiting composure compared to that of Mariano Rivera, Nova’s calm has provided quality starts without the fist pumping antics that litter the late night highlight reel. It’s this composure that exemplifies his maturity, a crucial ingredient to success in the majors.

Future Of the Rotation

The time of the season where Nova’s success goes “under he radar” has come and gone. In a division race nothing goes unnoticed, whether it is success or failure. Weighed down by the 16.5 million dollar bust of A.J. Burnett and the unsolved missing person’s case of Phil Hughes version 2010, the Yankees rotation will need Nova to stay just as calm and collected through September and into October. The raw talent is more than sufficient and with his composure he’ll emerge as a key piece to the Yankee puzzle for winning ballgames in a consistent basis down the stretch. His youth provides a dimension of durability the arms of Colon and Garcia can’t, given the mileage of their careers. The future of the Yankee rotation lies in Nova’s arm and its starts with this year’s division race.

Nova in October

With Sabathia as the clear-cut ace, the two spot in the October rotation will be decided in the coming month of the season. One can only hope manager, Joe Girardi, will play the hot hand, without letting the money committed to Burnett and Hughes cloud his decision-making. If that is the case, Nova will start game two or three of the American League Divisional Series after stapling his position in the playoff rotation with consistent success in his coming starts. Burnett will be put in the bullpen and be the highest paid middle reliever in baseball, a place where he can be an effective part of the Yankees staff.  If money talks louder than results, Burnett will get the ALDS nod and pitch four innings of no hit ball before giving up 5 runs on walks and wild pitches. putting Girardi on the hot seat.

Come September and October, if Nova continues to deal, it will no longer happen quietly.

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3 comments for “Ivan Nova’s Sudden Success in the Bronx”

  1. New Post: Ivan Nova’s Sudden Success in the Bronx

    Posted by Sports of New York | August 15, 2011, 4:18 pm
  2. Good article, though I do think Nova will be used sparingly in the postseason, if he makes the roster, because of his innings. I’m thinking CC-Freddy-Colon in the postseason with Hughes and Nova in the pen. Also, I think A.J. would be absolutely useless in the bullpen cause he can’t throw strikes sometimes, it might be another Barry Zito ’10 situation.

    Posted by A Lee | August 15, 2011, 9:24 pm
  3. There is still a lot of baseball to play before the playoffs but if all trends continue I can’t see a reason why the Yankees would shy away from Nova come October. Another thing to consider is that the fatigue of a long season should start to show their effects on Garcia and Colon sooner rather than later. Nova is young and should be more resilient after another month of pitching. As for the Burnett comment, I think trying him out in the bullpen would be an interesting thing to try considering his command issues seem to always emerge the second or third time through the opposing batting order.

    Posted by Gabriel Yanez | August 17, 2011, 2:25 pm

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