Girardi: Nova has to compete for a spot

Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger wrote about the Ivan Nova/David Phelps battle for the fifth starter role. Yankees manager Joe Girardi stated that Nova “has to go out and prove himself” in order to win the spot.

For his part, Nova understands why it’s going to be a battle for the position and he spoke about his struggles last season by succinctly saying, “I got hit.”

Why yes, he did.

Nova admitted he also began to press while in the midst of his struggles last season which made things worse:

“I’m not going to lie: Sometimes,” he said. “Sometimes. Because you’re trying to do your job, and you can’t. Because I was still working. I was working hard during the year. I wasn’t getting the results that I wanted.”

Ivan Nova is one of those pitchers who when he’s on, he can be really good but when he’s off, he falls off a cliff. Actually, there was one start in particular that encapsulated Nova’s career thus far: May 19 against the Cincinnati Reds. He gave up five earned runs in six innings, earning the loss but also struck out 12 batters. It was such a frustrating game to watch.

Hmm, this sounds an awful like his former best friend A.J. Burnett‘s days in pinstripes, doesn’t it? (For the record, I am not blaming Burnett for anything. I just thought the comparison would be amusing.)

In 2012, Nova not only struggled to pitch well but he struggled to stay healthy as well – he had an inflamed rotator cuff which kept him out for two weeks. His ERA overall was pretty bad (5.03) but it was putrid after June (6.38). He also gave up a lot of homers and doubles (28 and 52 respectively) with multiple doubles in half of his 28 starts. He even had five starts in which he allowed at least four doubles. As McCullough said in his piece, “That’s a lot of doubles.”

So for Nova, this Spring is extremely important. He has to earn the right to be in the starting rotation and the trust of Girardi and the coaching staff, otherwise he’ll be watching David Phelps take the ball every fifth day.

About Stacey Gotsulias

Stacey is co-Editor-in-Chief of It's About The Money and co-host of the It's About The Money, Stupid podcast.

3 thoughts on “Girardi: Nova has to compete for a spot

  1. I think that comment “Nova “has to go out and prove himself” in order to win the fifth starter spot. is true for the most part. I think Nova does have a very slight advantage heading into ST in the eyes of the Yankees. But it is a very slight lead. If he falters in any way OR Phelps has an exceptional ST then I think all bets are off and Phelps could certainly win the job.

  2. For all intents and purposes, Nova went through a sophomore slump last year. Some pretty good pitchers have struggled in their second full season (Mel Stottlemyre of 1966 immediately comes to mind) and recovered to have pretty good careers. Nova brings a mid 90s fastball and nasty breaking stuff to the table. Another low cost 2014 option if he performs well this year. No reason he can't win anywhere between 12 and 15 games with the Yanks. More if he's healthy and properly focused.