Ivan Nova: Is New York Yankee Pitcher a Super Nova or Super Lucky?

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Ivan Nova: Is New York Yankee Pitcher a Super Nova or Super Lucky?
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Ivan Nova has been dominant in his last two starts

Ivan Nova was a revelation for the New York Yankees in 2011. He had a breakout season, finishing 16-4 with a respectable, if not lights out, ERA of 3.70.

One year, however, doesn't make a career. No one was penciling in Nova for another 16 victories this season until he showed he wasn't going to be a one-hit wonder.

Nova is on pace to duplicate his first full season in the majors. He is 8-2 and allowed only one run in 15 innings of his last two starts.

Still, the question remains: Is Nova that good or that lucky?

There is no questioning that Yankee bats come alive when Nova is on the mound. The Yankees averaged 5.95 runs in his starts last season, and they are averaging 5.78 runs in his first 12 starts in 2012.

That has helped Nova avoid a few more losses, if not increase his victory total. His ERA is still 4.64 even after his last two starts. His WHIP is 1.41.

Is he a No. 1 or No. 2  starter, or does he give the Yankees one of the best back-of-the-rotation pitchers in the American League?

At this point the jury is still out. Nova has allowed five or more runs in six of his 12 starts, which is not the consistency the Yankees want from him.

On the other hand, he appears to be maturing into more of a strikeout pitcher. He has 69 strikeouts in 77.2 innings this season. He had only 98 in 165.1 innings in 2011.

Run support can be a double-edged sword, of course. Some pitchers lose focus and get sloppy when they have big leads. That isn't the case for more experienced starters, like CC Sabathia, who is 7-3 with a 3.69 ERA and has gotten better run support than Nova with 5.86 runs per start.

Compare this to Hiroki Kuroda—who has gotten only 3.46 runs per game to work with—Phil Hughes—who has received 4.24 runs per game—and Andy Pettitte, who in a handful of starts has had 4.86 runs scored for him.

Pettitte, who is almost 40, has a 2.81 ERA. This demonstrates how he doesn't let the score affect his approach on the mound.

Will Nova get better with experience, or is he destined to be only as good as the hitting support he gets?

The next two years should tell the story.

Meanwhile, there have been some pitchers who finished with impressive win-lost records in a given season, but a less-than-impressive ERA.

Let's look at a random few, some of whom pitched for the Yankees.  

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