According to Andy McCullough of The Star-Ledger, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes that starter Ivan Nova could be activated from the 15-day disabled list in time to make a start during the doubleheader in Cleveland.
Girardi plans to take advantage of the 26-man rule that allows teams to carry an extra player during doubleheaders. Nova would effectively become the 26th man for Monday's games, but his status with the team after that isn't necessarily guaranteed.
He could very well be sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after he pitches in order to work on his mechanics and try to establish some consistency.
Pure speculation on my part, but I think it's a move that the Yankees need to consider.
Through four starts, Nova owns a 6.48 ERA and has yet to record an out in the sixth inning of a ballgame. Opponents are hitting a robust .354 against him, and his WHIP is 1.86—a number made possible by the eight free passes he's issued in 16.2 innings pitched.
This type of inconsistency is nothing new for the big right-hander. In 2012, Nova pitched to a 5.02 ERA and 1.468 WHIP. He also allowed 28 home runs in 170.1 innings.
Nova has struggled ever since his 16-4 rookie season in 2011, as consistency has become a thing of the past.
A trip down to Triple-A could work as both a wake-up call and an opportunity to tighten up his mechanics against lesser competition. If he were to go down after his start on Monday, then he could be called up again by the All-Star break—hopefully with improved mechanics and increased expectations.
It's not like the Yankees don't have the pitching to take his place. David Phelps has performed well as a starter during his short career. In 13 career starts, he owns a 3.91 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 69.0 innings. His WHIP of 1.232 would be a big improvement over Nova's inflated mark.
If Nova were to stay on the 25-man roster, Phelps would move to the bullpen and one of either Vidal Nuno or Preston Claiborne would be sent back down. Both Nuno and Claiborne have pitched pretty well, though.
Nuno has pitched just three innings, but has yet to allow a run. He also has value as a left-hander, which makes him a nice asset for Girardi. Boone Logan had been the only lefty in the bullpen prior to Nuno.
Claiborne has also tossed just three innings, but he has been perfect. Claiborne has yet to allow a baserunner and displayed above-average command in the process. While neither Claiborne nor Nuno is considered a Mark Montgomery-type of reliever, they have both proven themselves valuable early on in their respective careers.
The Yankees have the depth at this point to keep Nova down in the minors to allow him to work out the kinks. In a worst-case scenario, Nova could be called upon earlier than expected if others struggle. As that has yet to happen, it would be a wise decision to consider leaving him down for a few months.
It's hard to fathom that he could pitch much worse after a few months in the minors.