Phelps replaces Nova in rotation
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had a surprise announcement before the Yankees’ final series of the regular season Monday night against the Red Sox. The statistics sheet listed Ivan Nova as the Yankees’ starter for Tuesday night’s game, but Girardi informed the press that David Phelps will make the start instead.
The move was not based on an injury. There is nothing wrong with Nova physically. There has been a great deal wrong with Nova’s pitching, especially in the second half. In truth, Nova has not been the pitcher he was in 2011 when he was a certifiable American League/Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award candidate.
Nova’s earned run average has been below 4.00 only once since April 20. It climbed to 5.02 after his latest outing, a 6-0 loss last Thursday night at Toronto when Nova gave up four earned runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings. It continued a downward slide by the righthander, who has allowed 194 hits in 170 1/3 innings.
Since returning from a right rotator cuff injury, Nova is 1-1 with a 6.23 ERA and 15 hits allowed in 13 innings. He is 2-5 with a 7.05 ERA and 75 hits allowed in 60 innings in the second half.
Phelps, on the other hand, has been the more reliable performer. The rookie righthander is 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA for the season, including 3-1 with a 3.57 ERA and 41 hits allowed in 53 innings in the second half. As a starter, Phelps is 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA with 46 hits allowed, 21 walks and 50 strikeouts in 52 innings. Opponents are batting .240 in the second half against Phelps and .309 against Nova.
What this move essentially means is that Nova is out of the Yankees’ rotation for the rest of the year. The regular season ends after Wednesday’s schedule of games, unless there is a playoff for the AL East title, which the Yankees hope to avoid by running the table against the Red Sox while the Orioles lose at least one of the three games to the Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Yankees caught a few breaks toward that end Monday night. Mark Teixeira returned to their lineup after missing the past 20 games and 30 of the past 31 because of a left calf strain. Boston was without its table setters, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, a couple of flat-out Yankee killers. Pedroia apparently has a hand injury. No one seems to know what is wrong with Ellsbury, who missed six games last week with no explanation.