Going into 2012, the Yankees had the fourth and fifth place finishers in AL Rookie of the Year voting. Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda entered Spring Training as promising, cost-effective solutions for the suddenly frugal Bombers. However, Pineda suffered a shoulder injury and missed the entire season. Nova, who posted an impressive 16 win, 3.70 ERA rookie campaign, was terrible in 2012, turning in an ugly 5.02 ERA in 28 starts. Nova did not make the post-season roster and many began writing him off.
Still, the 25-year-old Nova has the makings of dependable starter. Nova’s fastball consistently sits around 93-94 MPH and his slider makes for an effective out pitch. From 2011 to 2012, Nova’s strikeout total jumped from 98 to 153. Typically, most young power pitchers need a few seasons before putting up large strikeout totals. However, Nova began overcompensating for his newfound strikeout ability by leaving pitches up in the zone. Nova’s home run output doubled, 13 to 28, but his walk rate largely remained the same. Injuries may have played a factor in Nova’s disappointing 2012 campaign. Nova missed nearly a month with shoulder soreness, but we don’t know how long he pitched with the pain.
In short, Nova has shown he can be a #2 starter. During 2011, the Yankees rewarded Nova with post-season starts. Nova has a plus fastball and showed the ability to miss bats at an above average rate. If Nova can keep the ball down and sacrifice some strikeouts, his ERA and win output will rebound. Nova will likely enter Spring Training as the Yankees’ #5 starter, so he’ll have time to assimilate into the rotation. Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda are probably in their last seasons, so Nova needs to correct his mistakes and become a major part of the Yankees rotation. I believe he’ll make the necessary adjustments and bounce back in 2013.