Nova could pitch his way out of rotation
Ivan Nova’s hopes of being in the Yankees’ rotation in the postseason were probably dashed Thursday night when he could not get through the fifth inning at Toronto’s Rogers Centre. Of course, the Yankees have to get to the postseason first, which was not helped by their losing to the Blue Jays, 6-0.
Nova gave up four earned runs, six hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. He was wounded by a two-run home run by Brett Lawrie in the third inning and a two-run double by Edwin Encarnacion in the fifth. The extra-base hits raised the season total against Nova to 87, the most yielded by any pitcher in the majors this season and by any Yankees pitcher in their history. The previous club mark of 86 was set in 1989 by Andy Hawkins, but he pitched 38 more innings than Nova.
The struggling outing came on the heels of a start five days ago when Nova pitched only 2 1/3 innings against the Athletics at Yankee Stadium and allowed three earned runs and five hits. The righthander’s earned run average has bloated to 5.02. Over his past 11 starts, Nova is 2-5 with a 7.05 ERA. He has allowed 75 hits, including 11 home runs, in 60 innings over that stretch.
Toronto starter Brandon Morrow was in complete control in his seven innings as he got 13 outs in the infield to go with three strikeouts. Brad Lincoln and Darren Oliver supplied a scoreless inning apiece as the Yankees were shut out for the sixth time this year. Robinson Cano had three hits and Russell Martin two, but the rest of the batting order went 0-for-22.
The Yankees wasted an opportunity to gain ground in the American League East on the Orioles, who were not scheduled. The Yankees’ lead over Baltimore is down to one game again with six games remaining for each team. The Blue Jays are doing a good job of playing spoiler. Toronto split a four-game series with the Orioles before beginning a four-game set against the Yanks with a victory.
With the race as close as it is, the Yankees cannot speak openly about postseason play. If they do qualify for the playoffs, the Yanks are likely to go with a four-man rotation. Nova’s recent starts would appear to put him behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte.