New York Yankees: Ivan Nova Pitching His Way out of Bombers Playoff Rotation

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst IAugust 6, 2012

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 06:  Ivan Nova #47 of the New York Yankees reacts during the sixth inning of the game aganst the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on August 6, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

At the start of the season, it was almost unthinkable that Ivan Nova wouldn't get a playoff start for the New York Yankees in 2012, should they make it that far.

However, as of late, Nova looks like he might not earn his spot in the postseason rotation.

Coming off a 16-win rookie campaign that saw him make a successful playoff start, Nova was expected to be a huge piece of the Yankees machine for 2012, but exactly the opposite has happened.

After getting off to a rough start to the season, Nova rebounded in June with a 3-0 record and an ERA of 1.26. It seemed as though the 25-year-old was ready to get hot, much like he did in the second half of 2011.

July was a much different story for Nova. He pitched to an abysmal 5.97 ERA during the month, which was good for a 1-3 record. It was his worst month of the season despite a horrid April and May.

Now that August has arrived, Nova doesn't appear to be getting any better. In his first start of the month against the Detroit Tigers—a potential playoff team—Nova got shelled for seven runs on 11 hits over 5.1 innings pitched.

Nova's last two starts have been his worst two starts of the season by far. He hasn't won a game in nearly a month and, since that July 8 win, Nova's ERA has risen almost a full run.

To make matters worse for his potential playoff starting hopes, Nova has been out-pitched by fellow starter, Phil Hughes.

Hughes barely made the rotation this season, and if not for Michael Pineda's injury and Freddy Garcia's ineffectiveness, he might be in the bullpen right now. But, everything turned out okay for Hughes. After a terrible start to the 2012 season, he has rebounded quite nicely.

June and July were excellent months for Hughes, who went a combined 6-3, posting ERAs of 2.67 and 3.09, respectively. His first start of August wasn't pretty, but after scattering nine hits in total, Hughes only allowed one run over six innings.

The 26-year-old just keeps on getting better as the season progresses.

At this point, there's no doubt Hughes is the better pitcher and, if the playoffs started today, Nova would be on the outside looking in behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Hughes.

If Nova wants to avoid being sent to the bullpen for the 2012 MLB postseason, he must turn it around quickly. With the playoffs less than two months away, Nova still has time to prove that he belongs on the mound in a big game for the Yankees.