Ivan Nova Poised to Win Major Role

After two scoreless outings thus far this spring, the Dominican native has already put himself in good position to win a spot at the back of the Yankees unsettled rotation.

Analysis: Much has been made this offseason about the Yankees 4 and 5 spots in their starting rotation, with a host of characters in camp trying to secure one of these coveted jobs. Among these staff hopefuls are veterans Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, along with the 24-year-old Nova. Originally signed as an amateur free agent in 2004 but stolen away from New York in December 2008’s Rule 5 draft, the 6’4″ right-hander was returned to the Yankees after a horrible spring training just a few months later. This looks like a blessing for the Bombers, as Nova appears to be coming into his own after making seven big league starts last season. He’s created a significant amount of buzz over the past seven days among Yankees staff and scouts alike, retiring all six Phillies he faced on Sunday and hurling three shutout frames yesterday against the Rays. With a little over three weeks of Grapefruit League action remaining, Nova is currently a favorite for the starting rotation.

Projection: Barring a complete meltdown, a trade or signing (the chances of this are very slim according to GM Brian Cashman), or a godlike resurgence from the portly Colon, Nova will head north at the end of this month as one of the Yankees starters. Perhaps the biggest knock on the youngster last year was his inability to finish six innings each turn. This was never an issue for Nova as he worked his way up from the GCL to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and he’ll be able to overcome this obstacle at the Major League level. As his confidence grows, so will his penchant for challenging hitters as opposed to nibbling around the plate and inflating his pitch count early in the game. These types of growing pains have surfaced in even the best arms, but are always magnified tenfold when pitching in the Bronx. I do not see endurance being a problem this year, and that spells good Fantasy numbers for Nova. Backed by a solid defense, a lockdown bullpen, and one of the best offenses in the league, look for Ivan to provide 12-14 wins over 28-30 starts. If he can improve the bite on his curveball to go along with his impressive sinking fastball, then count on him for a solid number of strikeouts as well.

Author: Scott Orgera

Scott has been covering several major sports for almost 20 years in multiple capacities including statistician, datacaster, and reporter. He has covered well over 1,000 MLB games from the press boxes of various venues including Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium, Citi Field, and Fenway Park. Scott has also provided live NFL statistics from Giants Stadium (now the New Meadowlands Stadium) for both the Giants and Jets for several seasons. He has recently begun providing official statistics for NCAA Basketball television broadcasts. Scott is also an IT Team Lead for a major telecommunications company, in addition to being a technical reporter for a well known news outlet.

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