Ivan Nova’s first major league start got a lot of people’s attention last week, including that of manager Joe Girardi who gave him a spot in the rotation, supplanting the hapless Javier Vazquez.
Nova showed a lot of poise on Monday night in Toronto. He struggled early but he kept his cool andhe kept his pitch count relatively low against the Jays (73 pitches, 44 strikes) for 5 1/3 innings. He gave up two runs on six hits (including a homer to Jose Bautista), walked just one, and struck out three. Ultimately he ended up with a no-decision, but the fact that he was able to convince Girardi to start him again should go down as a win.
The 23-year-old righty showed a lot of stones in the game, no more convincingly than in the sixth when facing Bautista. Nova threw a fastball up and in to the slugger, who took exception and started walking towards the mound with his bat in his hand, ie totally bush league. Nova kept his cool as the benches and bullpens cleared around him. No one threw any punches and on the next pitch Bautista flew out to center. That was all that I needed to see from him to know he’s got it together.
Vazquez, on the opposite end of the spectrum, seems to be a lost cause. He came out of the pen on Wednesday in relief of Phil Hughes and boosted his ERA to 4.96 by giving up a run in 4 1/3.
With fewer days off during the playoffs this year, Girardi is going to need to rely on more than just a three-man rotation of CC, Pettitte and Hughes. Burnett might be up to the task, but Vazquez is certainly not part of that equation. Nova very well might be.
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Written by Stephanie Geosits