There is no doubt that Ivan Nova’s confidence is shaken. After getting pounded for seven runs and eleven hits in yesterday’s loss to Detroit, Nova’s body language showed a man beaten and lost.
The twenty-five year old righty from the Dominican Republic made his major league debut in pinstripes in 2010. But, it wasn’t until 2011 that Nova established himself as a key starter in the Yankees rotation. Relying heavily on his four-seam fastball, Nova went 16-4 in 2011 and ended the season with a 3.70 ERA. He surpassed the Yankees rookie record of twelve consecutive wins, a record set by Atley Donald in 1939.
Nova is currently 10-6 with a 4.81 ERA. In 2011, he gave up 163 hits, this year he has already given up 160. The expectations surrounding Nova heading into 2012 weren’t extremely high. Nova was never touted to be a superstar. But, to say he surprised and pleased Yankees brass with his performance and confidence on the field in 2011 would be an understatement.
After Monday’s loss in Detroit, Nova expressed his frustration. “I’m leaving too many pitches in the middle,” Nova said. “The hitters are too comfortable against me. It’s a tough day for me, another day, but I can turn the page. I’ve got to keep working.” Nova knows he needs to get back on track if he wants to make the post season roster. You can’t give up 16 hits and 21 runs in 10 1/3 innings if you want to help your team win ball games.
At this point in the year, the Yankees can’t afford to sit back and lose games. Baltimore is 5.5 games back in the division, bigger leads have been blown. Let’s not forget playing spoiler, Detroit is just 1.5 behind the Chi Sox in the Central, the Yankees need to be playing Detroit as if this is the playoffs. Every division in baseball is close right now. With the additional wild card spot added, the last few weeks of the season are going to go right down to the wire.
Right now, there are a few question marks in the Yankees rotation heading into the last month of the season. Phil Hughes is as inconsistent as always and Pettitte’s return date is uncertain. Garcia’s next start is Friday against Toronto where he has a 9.88 ERA in four appearances, all eyes will be on Freddy to see how he fares in this outing. With Sabathia and Kuroda holding down the fort, the Yankees will focus on the rest of the rotation, that includes figuring out how to get Nova out of the rut he is in.