Another start for Ivan Nova, another reason why the New York Yankees couldn't possibly start him in a playoff game.
The MLB postseason is rapidly approaching, and while the Yanks might have their first three starters figured out, their No. 4 is nowhere near certain.
Nova had the upper hand to make the playoff rotation coming into 2012 after a stellar rookie campaign and successful playoff start. But you can throw all that out the window because he hasn't been anywhere close to his 2011 form.
The 25-year-old is currently 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA, and while he looked dominant against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 15, his two starts before and the ones that followed were just awful.
So that means Phil Hughes is a lock to make the playoff rotation, right?
Wrong. Hughes has been slightly better than Nova this year, but the word inconsistent sticks to him like a sweaty t-shirt to a jogger on an August afternoon. When putting both pitchers side-by-side, Hughes has the edge over Nova.
For the season, Hughes is 16-13 with a 4.10 ERA. Those numbers do look better than Nova's, but that's nothing to call home about for Hughes. Besides, in the month of September, the 26-year-old is 3-2 with a 4.50 ERA.
No matter who gets the No. 4 slot in the playoff rotation, whether it be Hughes or Nova, it doesn't really matter from where Yankee fans are sitting. Both will give fans an equally nervous and sick feeling in their collective stomachs as they take the mound for October baseball.
Beyond Hughes and Nova, the Yanks don't have very many options. The Bombers could go with David Phelps or Freddy Garcia, both having done a nice job filling in for injured starters this year. But despite that, neither of those arms are any more certain than Hughes and Nova.
If the Bombers do manage to make the postseason, which looks likely at this point, they have a tough decision to make. In the end, it looks like a lose-lose situation for New York and it may just end up being the hottest hand on the team that gets the ball in the No. 4 slot of the Yanks' playoff rotation.
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