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Jobu wonders just how welcome Iván Nova will be when he’s eligible to come off the DL.

Last week, I debuted the Ben Francisco Roster Watch, a post designed to figure out exactly why Ben Francisco is still on the roster, and when (if ever) he’ll be released. I had so much fun ripping into Francisco’s terrible play that I figured I would start the Iván Nova Rotation Spot watch. It would have been a post designed to see how terribly Nova could continue to pitch and not be removed from the rotation. Unforunately for me (but probably fortunate for the Yankees), Nova hurt himself in the middle of another bad start Friday night. He’s been put on the DL with triceps inflammation in his throwing arm.

While that put a kibosh on my post idea, it gave me another idea. So… should Iván Nova be allowed back into the rotation when he comes back? I think that all depends on how long he’s injured and how his replacement does in the meantime. It could now be David Phelps’ time to shine, and with Michael Pineda now facing live hitters, he looms large on the horizon too.

First of all, let’s review what Nova has done so far this season. In four starts (including the one that was cut short by injury Friday night), he’s managed o pitch 16.2 innings. Even if you take out the short start, he had still only pitched 14.2 innings in three starts so far this season. That’s not particularly good for business, and no… it’s not good for anybody. Well, let me dig a little deeper into those figures. If he was pitching well in his 14.2 innings, I might not be as offended. The fact that he was pitching like a tee-ball pitcher (think about it) made those starts impossible to watch.

(Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Can Phelps step up and take command of the fifth spot? (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

In his overall 16.2 innings, Nova has allowed 8 walks and 23 hits. That makes his WHIP a robust 1.860. The 12 runs he allowed (all earned) make his ERA 6.48, which is about where it has been since the second half of last season. To put it simply, the guy who went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA as a rookie in 2011 is long gone. We’ll miss him, but he ain’t coming through that door any time soon. The guy needs to go to AAA to figure some stuff out. In 2011, when he struggled early on, he was sent down and came back with a fury that led him to ten straight wins. I think a little boost in motivation is needed once again.

That brings us to David Phelps. Phelps pitched just as well as, if not better than Nova did this Spring. Because the Yankees had seen him work out of the pen effectively last season, and he didn’t necessarily crush Nova’s numbers in spring, the Yankees went with Nova. All things equal, and the way Nova pitched early in the spring, I can’t blame them. Now in April, that’s a bit of a different story. Although Phelps struggled in his last couple of outings before the Nova injury, he really stepped it up on Friday night. He came in in the third inning and pitched 4 shutout innings, striking out a career-high nine Blue Jays. He allowed a run on two hits (a homer), but was otherwise unblemished. the Yankees came back to win that game (more on that later this week), and it was because Phelps held the Jays pretty much where they were.

Phelps has shown he can pitch effectively in the rotation or the bullpen. At this point, he’s getting his big chance to show what he can do every fifth day. If Nova’s out long enough, and Phelps steps up and pitches how we saw him pitch last year, there’s no reason to take him back out of the rotation when Nova is ready to come back. Also, both of these guys might find themselves in the bullpen, or the AAA rotation in Nova’s case, if Michael Pineda comes back and pitches like he did his rookie year. That probably won’t be a realistic option until July, but he’s probably coming soon. It will be a good problem for the Yankees to have.

Featured image courtesy of: Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

Martin Stezano

About Martin Stezano

Uruguayan born and American raised with a unique perspective on the domestic and international sports scenes. It will both tickle your funny bone and enlighten your mind. Love it or hate it...just read it.