New York Yankees: Why Ivan Nova Has Pitched Himself out of Playoff Rotation

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst ISeptember 28, 2012

TORONTO, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 27:  PItcher Ivan Nova #47 of the New York Yankees is pulled from the game against the Toronto Blue Jays during MLB action at the Rogers Centre September 27, 2012 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

Ivan Nova is not doing himself any favors in the final month of the regular season.

With the New York Yankees battling to win the American League East and just holding off the Baltimore Orioles, Nova had a chance on Thursday night to give the Yankees a two-game cushion.

Instead, Nova couldn't pitch out of the fifth inning for a second straight start and got knocked around by the Toronto Blue Jays in a 6-0 rout.

The loss dropped Nova's record to 12-8 and his ERA jumped up again to 5.02. His record is decent, but the ERA is awful.

And with that loss, he may have just pitched himself out of Joe Girardi's plans for October.

With the playoff race shaping up, the Yankees are still in good shape to finish out the season on a strong note and potentially win the division.

If that is the case, Girardi has to start planning on who he will use for each start.

CC Sabathia will likely get the ball in any Game 1 as he's the ace. Girardi could go with either Andy Pettitte or Hiroki Kuroda in a Game 2 and 3.

After that, in a Game 4, I think Phil Hughes would get the nod over Nova, which is a complete 180-degree turnaround from a year ago.

Last year, during the second half of the year, Nova didn't lose a start until Game 5 of the ALDS against the Tigers and was considered the number two starter behind Sabathia.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, Nova has regressed and looks more like a number five starter on the bubble of just being in the rotation.

What's crazy to look at are his numbers before and after June 17.

At that time, Nova was 9-2 with a 4.35 ERA. His ERA was a little high, but he was still winning games while getting a lot of run support.

Since then, he's 3-6 in 14 starts. His ERA has steadily climbed since the beginning of July and gotten worse each month.

Lets be honest here: Nova has been flat-out terrible for the Yankees in 2012.

Sure he has won 12 games, but his ERA at times was in the mid-5.00 area during the season. If not for the run support, Nova's record would be well below .500.

If you want to call it a sophomore slump, so be it. But whatever it is, Nova has done nothing to earn himself a spot for October.

If and when Girardi has to figure out who is pitching in the ALDS, he may choose to leave Nova out of the rotation, and maybe off the postseason roster all together.

David Phelps and Derek Lowe would be better suited to be the long relievers over Nova at this point, which is a shame for Nova.

Nova was a go-to pitcher in 2011 and the pitcher Girardi trusted with the ball in the second part of Game 1 and then again in Game 5 of the ALDS against the Tigers.

A year later, Nova might only be a spectator on the bench in October because of all his poor outings.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.