Improvement In 2013: Ivan Nova

When Nova returned from a minor league stint in the middle of 2011, he started 11 more games for the Yankees in July, August, and September. Nova may have been the best Yankee starter for the second-half of 2011, as he emerged with a new devastating slider and a 3.18 ERA in 73.2 innings. We expected a lot out of Nova in 2012, and we received some of that, but only in doses. In June and July, Nova pitched 7 games and 47.2 innings with a 1.70 ERA, allowing just 40 hits and earning 42 strikeouts. In the 11 games following that, Nova pitched to a 7.05 ERA, while batters were hitting .309/.372/.539 off of him.

Even at 26 years old, it’s hard to tell what kind of pitcher Nova will become. His slider and curveball were extremely effective pitches, even in 2012. The curveball accounted for a 13% whiff rate and batters only hit 11 line drives off the 741 pitches all season.… Click here to read the rest

2012 Statistical Trends: Ivan Nova’s XBH Allowed

This year he really was Ivan The Terrible

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Last week I looked at Robinson Cano‘s disconcerting decline in production against left-handed pitching this past season, and what might have been the cause for the change.  This week I’d like to do the same thing with another negative 2012 trend, that being Ivan Nova‘s insanely high number of extra base hits allowed.

Hopes were high for Nova in 2012 after his strong finish to 2011.  And in plain English he just flat out sucked this season.  There’s no other way to say it.  Despite setting new career bests in starts (28), IP (170.1), K rate (20.5%, 8.08/9), and BB rate (7.5%, 2.96/9), Nova’s season was defined by his 5.02/4.60 ERA/FIP split and the never-ending barrage of XBH flying off of opposing bats that led to those high values.  Nova’s 87 XBH allowed were head and shoulders above his closest competition, not the type of league-leading black ink you want on your stats ledger, but the changes in his K and BB numbers suggests this shouldn’t have been the case. … Click here to read the rest

X-factor in 2013 – young Yankee starters

Phelps first run in the Bigs was satisfying. Can he grow from here?

Since 2007, when Joba Chamberlain was called up to the majors and became an overnight sensation, the Yankees have consistently been able to reach into their farm system to find young pitching talent capable of filling in an immediate need adequately, if not always brilliantly. After Joba it was Phil Hughes in 2009 and 2010. In 2011 it was Ivan Nova. In 2012 the Yankees turned to David Phelps. If we add Michael Pineda to that list, who should be able to return in the second half of 2013, then the Yankees have a lot of depth, and a lot of question marks, in the bottom of their rotation.

What makes 2013 interesting, and promising, is that it has the potential to be the first season since 2008 that the Yankees could choose to put three young arms in their starting rotation. This isn’t as crazy as it might seem at first.… Click here to read the rest

Phelps Getting The Ball Instead Of Nova, And What It Means For Both Of Them

Tough way to go out for Ivan, but the right move. Courtesy of the AP

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

The biggest non-Mark Teixeira piece of news to come out of Yankeeland yesterday was Joe’s pregame announcement that it would be David Phelps, and not Ivan Nova, who would be taking the ball for tonight’s game.  At the time, this game was still a potential must-win for the Yankees to keep pace in the AL East race, a situation that has changed after the Yankees won and the Orioles lost last night.  With the way Nova has pitched in his last 2 starts and for almost the entire season, there was no way he could be allowed to take the ball in a game that important, and even though the critical nature of tonight’s game has been slightly lessened, it’s still a game that has a lot riding on it.  Phelps is a better option than Nova right now, that much is certain. … Click here to read the rest

Phelps to the Rotation, Nova to the Bullpen, Praise be to Logic

With three games remaining in the season and Nova having struggled mightily (to put it lightly) in five of six months, the Yankees have decided to give Phelps a shot with a veritable first-round ‘bye’ on the line. Nova’s struggles thus far have been well-chronicled, yet it seems as if the onus has been placed on his second half … and I feel that it needs to be said that that is a fairly inaccurate representation of his season. Consider the following splits:

Apr. – 24.1 IP, 5.18 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 3.42 xFIP
May. – 38.1 IP, 5.87 ERA, 5.84 FIP, 4.40 xFIP
Jun. – 35.2 IP, 1.26 ERA, 3.53 FIP, 3.79 xFIP
Jul. – 34.2 IP, 5.97 ERA, 4.32 FIP, 4.01 xFIP
Aug. – 24.1 IP, 7.03 ERA, 4.96 FIP, 3.91 xFIP
Sep. – 13.0 IP, 6.23 ERA, 5.34 FIP, 3.69 xFIP

Yes, ERA is far from a perfect measure of performance. Yes, these are arbitrary endpoints. Yes, these are individually small sample sizes.… Click here to read the rest

Nova Shows Off New Windup Against Rays

I’m not sure what to think of Ivan Nova. There are times when he’s absolutely dreadful, and then there are times when he’s the most dominant pitcher in the rotation. And that’s no exaggeration when you consider the 3.18 ERA he put up in the second half of last year, and the 1.26 ERA he dished out in 35.2 IP in June this season. In comparison to hid great streaks, before his recent DL stint, he put up an 8.59 ERA in his previous 5 starts.

As odd as it may seem, inconsistency is a necessary hardship when you rely on 25 year olds in your rotation. Yankee fans aren’t entirely accustomed to such young and inexperienced pitchers struggling to mature through important major league games. It’s important to keep in mind that Nova is still very young, just a year removed from the learning the slider, and it’s that type of inexperience that will cause him to lose a feel for things.… Click here to read the rest

Nova to Undergo Tests for Tightness in Shoulder

Perhaps the most fitting image for Ivan Nova's 2012 season, courtest of the LoHud Yankees Blog.

As per Chad Jennings, Nova felt tightness in his right shoulder as he faced his final batter last night. Reports initially indicated that his shoulder was bothering him throughout the sixth inning, and Girardi stated that this is the first time this season Nova has mentioned any pain or discomfort – so, sadly, this cannot explain away his 7.28 ERA since the All-Star Break. He is likely to miss at least one start.

Here’s hoping that the Yankees haven’t voided whatever warranty they have on their pitchers … and that Nova has a speedy recovery.… Click here to read the rest

Can Chris Stewart Fix Ivan Nova?

In his previous two starts, Ivan Nova gave up 16 earned runs and 21 hits over 10.1 innings pitched. After he called his recent slump bad luck, I compared the PITCHf/x numbers, as well as video of his mechanics. I came to the conclusion that Nova, with the intention of increasing velocity, was overthrowing his pitches. It resulted in balls that were released too early and lacked spin rotation, which was causing his pitches to fly up in towards the right handed batter’s box. Throwing pitches to a righties’ weak spot, down and away, resulted in balls right down the middle of the plate.

It all changed when Nova was matched up with backup catcher Chris Stewart. While he still showed some signs of overthrowing, Stewart called a game where this wouldn’t be an issue. The outcome was 7.1 innings of 5 hit ball, 2 runs, and 10 strike outs. It was Nova’s best start since June, and a vast improvement over his last two stinkers.… Click here to read the rest

Randomly rambling

The last two weeks of Yankee baseball have been, well, frustrating is really the only word for them. They can’t see to pitch all the way right or hit all the way right and it’s led to more losses than wins. Let’s ramble a bit, just to get the verbal diarrhea out there and into the open.

The Rotation:

I think we all know what the issue is here, or rather who the issue is. Despite his bad start last night, Phil Hughes has been pulling his weight in the rotation for a while. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are, have been, and will be fine. And since returning to the rotation on July 2, Freddy Garcia has been more than serviceable (3.95 ERA/4.22 FIP). Ivan Nova, though, hasn’t performed up to task. Mike Axisa at RAB talked about the Nova problem yesterday:

Is that a good idea? No, not really. No team wants to start a bad pitcher every five days but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Click here to read the rest