He burst onto the MLB scene for the New York Yankees in 2011, winning 16 games and throwing for a respectable 3.70 ERA in his first full major league season. As a 24-year-old Ivan Nova displayed confidence, poise under pressure, and consistency in establishing himself within the Yankee rotation.
The question now is not whether he can remain in the rotation, but rather can he move up in it? Is Nova ready to thrust himself further into the spotlight and become the Bombers' No. 2 starter behind ace CC Sabathia?
If one were to determine the answer to that after the first two months of the season, the response would be a resounding "no".
Through April and May, Nova's ERA was a horrifying 5.60 and his WHIP sat at 1.58. Even more disturbing was the fact that the pitcher yielded 13 home runs during that time—the same number he gave up the entire 2011 season. There were rumblings that the young hurler had a number of issues to be corrected, and perhaps a trip to the minor leagues would help in correcting them.
Then, as May turned to June, so too did Nova's fortunes in 2012 change. Since June 1st he has gone 3-1 with a 1.73 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. Those numbers are the best on the team, and only Hiroki Kuroda's 1.98 ERA in that time comes close.
In looking at his six starts since the beginning of June, Nova's performance against some of the top teams in baseball reveals a competitor who gives his best against the best.
His ERA in games against first place teams from Chicago (White Sox) and Washington (Nationals) is 1.20 and his WHIP is 1.13. Against the second place Mets and Rays his numbers are: 2.74 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
Clearly Ivan Nova has stepped up in the big games this summer.
Given that CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte have been placed on the disabled list with injuries, now is the perfect time for Nova to move up in the rotation, and stay there.
His last six starts suggest that the 25-year-old is ready to provide the right-handed complement to lefty ace Sabathia when the big southpaw returns from the DL.
Having a full year with postseason experience under his belt will prove invaluable during the late season push to October for the Yankees, and Ivan Nova is ready to play a role as the No. 2 starter the Bombers desperately need.