Remember yesterday, when I said that, since the Yankees don’t have many real holes on their big league roster, the local media generally has to make mountains out of molehills to gin up something for people to panic over? Wheeeeee!
Which brings us to young Ivan Nova, the Yankees’ pitching prodigy whom Anthopoulos just as easily could have been talking about. The 25-year-old Nova was about the Yankees’ most consistent starterafter CC Sabathialast year, turning in a superb 16-4 rookie season in which he was undefeated (12-0 with a 3.25 ERA) in his last 16 starts and finished with a 3.70 ERA. But in his first two starts this spring, Nova has been anything but consistent, especially with the location of his bread-and-butter fastball, and while it’s only a total of 87 pitches in the Grapefruit League, it’s enough to warrant some concern about whether this may be another example of the “volatility” of youth.
So everyone seemed to be in agreement that Nova’s location problems are nothing more than the rustiness of early spring. At the same time, however, no one talks about the importance of Nova to the rotation, for all his youth and inexperience. With the uncertainty of Hughes, the work-in-progress that is Michael Pineda and the unfamiliarity of Hiroki Kuroda with the American League East, whether the Yankees like it or not, Nova projects as their No. 2 starter off what he accomplished last season.
So let me see if I’ve got this right: Ivan Nova struggled in his second outing of spring training because he was having trouble commanding his fastball and getting ahead in counts (though he did work a 1-2-3 inning in the first), though his pitching coach and manager are just chalking it up to spring rustiness. Still, the is a BIG DEAL, because Nova is a Young Pitcher and thus cannot be afforded the right to have some time to shake the rust off, if he doesn’t come into spring training ready to perform like it’s mid-August it’s a sign of immaturity. You have to earn the right to use these games as tune ups for the regular season, even if you’re apparently the team’s number two starter. Although, to be fair, I guess Nova is being given that title by default since the 2011 All-Star who struck out nearly four more batters per nine innings pitched than Nova while walking slightly fewer in 5.2 more (regular season) innnings is a work-in-progress due to the inconvenient fact that he has just two plus offerings while Nova
has an array of eight different pitches with precision command of each one on a level that would make Greg Maddux proud pitched in the American League East last year.*
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