The easy answer is that, no, they obviously can’t send someone who has been as bad as Nova has been this year and can’t even be counted on to so much as keep the Yankees’ in the game for 5 or 6 innings out to start a pivotal late season game. Unfortunately it’s not that simple. As Sherman notes, the Yankees don’t have any obviously better alternatives to Nova. David Phelps wouldn’t have started in three weeks by the time next Tuesday rolls around, and may be needed out of the bullpen between then and now anyway. Starting Hiroki Kuroda on three days rest isn’t guaranteed to succeed either, and would potentially force the Yankees to choose between starting Nova and Andy Pettitte on short rest in the event that Game 162 was a must win.
These are very reasonable concerns but, depending on context, I don’t think they outweigh the concern involved in calling Nova’s number. If the magic number entering that game is one, meaning that there would be three other games (counting possible Baltimore losses) in which the Yankees could clinch the division, I’d probably go ahead and take my chances with Nova, but short of that I think you have to roll the dice with Kuroda, and maybe Pettitte too. The relative value of winning the division and avoiding the one game wildcard playoff is just too high to leave in the hands of your fifth starter in the final series of the season. In effect, all games would be playoff games at that point, and playoff games mean that you have to win or lose with your best players.
So what about you? If the Yankees haven’t clinched the division by the time Nova’s next turn comes up, do you go ahead and start him, or do you call on someone else