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Thursday, November 15, 2012

WHAT ABOUT IVAN NOVA?

I guess it goes without saying that 2012 wasn’t Ivan Nova’s season. I don’t know what went wrong for him this year, but I do know that sophomore slumps happen and no one should panic.  Was this a sophomore slump? I think maybe. I can’t even say it was a slump actually… but I do know one thing…. Ivan Nova is capable of being that legitimate starter that he was in 2011 and I am not ready to write him off yet.

I feel like Nova was lost this year from the very start and who knows, maybe this is just as much psychological as it is mechanical.  Almost a year ago, we made a trade that brought Michael Pineda to the Bronx. He was going to be a key piece to re-tooling this rotation. It all sounded great at the time but meanwhile, I was still looking at the silver lining for the season, which in my opinion was Ivan Nova.



Before you tell me I am crazy, think about the rotation a year ago. There we were in the ALDS and Mother Nature had interrupted the game yet again. That all too familiar rain delayed theme had made another appearance….this time it was in the Postseason. I remember being a little annoyed that CC Sabathia was being chased off of the mound. Who likes watching your Ace walk off of the mound without getting a win? Not me, I really can’t stand that feeling. Then, I felt a little safer….I felt more at ease knowing that Ivan Nova was going to pick up where he left the next day. If anyone could keep that momentum it was him. If we couldn’t have CC then we wanted Nova, he WAS our number two.
Now here we are at the end of the 2012 season and my memories are not the same and Nova was not our number two. Now I am thinking about how June was his golden month, he rose to the occasion and he reminded me of his great 2011 season. It looked like Nova was really turning things around when four of his five June starts lasted at least seven innings. He thrived during Inter league play giving up only one run during his starts against the Braves and the Nationals. His last start before the All-Star break was at Fenway Park and he struck out ten batters and it was what fans were waiting to see. All signs pointed to the return of the old Nova…..it just didn’t happen because the second half was not as successful.

Sure, this season was a step back for Nova, but he did make some noticeable changes that we may not have seen on the mound, but they stand out on paper. This year, Nova threw his slider more and he fooled a lot of batters that way. With that improved slider came a 20.5% strikeout rate, which gave him the 11th highest strikeout rate for American League starters. It may not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it is a small victory and if he can take that and build on it, there could be a good comeback story in the making.

It’s been a rough year for Nova, I’m sure this wasn’t what Nova pictured for himself for his second year and I’m sure the rotator cuff inflammation didn’t help matters. I know sometimes in life when things aren’t going as planned and you add on more struggles it feels like you are being kicked when you are already down. Its winter now and it is time to stop dwelling on the past and prepare for a new season. I know Nova can still be effective and help out this team. I really believe that he belongs in the Yankees long-term plans, and he will redeem himself next season. Nova’s lack-luster sophomore season is not the true indication of his talent, and I know he is going to give us a different story to write for 2013.




--Jeana Bellezza, BYB Writer and Editor
Twitter: @NyPrincessJ



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