Last October, when the New York Yankees needed one more win to extend their season another round, they asked Ivan Nova to get it.At this point there's really no reason to start him once October rolls around. He hasn't been the same pitcher he was last year and the only consistency we've seen from his is consistent disappointment. I'm pretty comfortable throwing out a 4-man playoff rotation of CC, Pettitte, Kuroda and Hughes, although Hughes does scare me. But with that said, I'd even put David Phelps higher up on the pecking order than Nova.
This October, they may not even invite him along for the ride.
Thursday night, facing yet another golden opportunity to create some separation between themselves and the Baltimore Orioles, the Yankees turned to Nova.
And as he had in the fifth game of the 2011 American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers, Nova turned to stone.
His frustrating, mistake-riddled performance, in which he allowed four runs and failed to last five innings, not only sliced the Yankees' margin over the idle Orioles in the AL East back to a single game, it also raised doubts about the value, if any, of including Nova on their postseason roster, let alone in the starting rotation.
The manager may have bigger fish to fry but that doesn't stop us from questioning whether Nova finally succeeded in not only pitching himself out of the playoff rotation, but right off the postseason roster.
Despite his supportive words, Girardi clearly doesn't trust him anymore in a big game -- he pulled him with one out in the third five days ago against the Oakland Athletics, and yanked him Thursday with two out in the fourth -- and his facial expressions tell you something his statements try to cover up.
Nova's maddening inconsistency is driving him bananas.
"He was big for us at the beginning of the year," Girardi said. "He ended up going on the DL, and after he had that great start against Tampa, we were hoping he could get on a roll. He hasn't."
Now, he has one start left this season, Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox in a game that in a perfect world really should be meaningless to everyone but him. And yet, there is every indication that it will wind up being important, and no guarantee that Nova will get the ball again.
"We'll see. We'll see," a tight-lipped Girardi said. "That's five days away. I have to worry about tomorrow."
As far as his start in Boston goes, to me that all depends on how important that game becomes. If it's a make or break game for the division I don't see how you can hand Nova the ball.