Ivan Nova wasn't very good last night: He allowed six runs in six innings in last night's 7–3 loss to the White Sox, with the big blow coming off the bat of Kevin Youkilis, whose fifth-inning grand slam gave Chicago a 6–2 lead. These kind of outings have become the norm for Nova: His ERA in four August starts is over 7; in six July outings, it was nearly 6. Nova has been identified as a pitcher who'd gotten some good luck in his career, which covered up some underlying issues. But it's tough for even a good offense like the Yankees' to provide the type of run support to overcome numbers like those. With CC Sabathia on the verge of returning from the disabled list, Joe Girardi is going to have to remove someone from the rotation soon. Could that someone be Nova?
As of right now — and by right now, we mean, this morning — Nova remains a starter in the Yankees' plans. In part, this is because the team hasn't yet made it official that Sabathia will start on Friday, and they won't need to drop someone from the rotation until that happens. David Phelps would have been the most obvious choice to be removed from the rotation, since he'd only been added after the some other starters went down with injuries. But he's pitched pretty well as a fill-in starter, while Nova has continued to struggle. At least publicly, Girardi says the team hasn't decided what will happen with the rotation. Via the Times:
Girardi never guaranteed that Nova would keep his spot.
“We haven’t talked about what we’re going to do,” Girardi said with a shrug. “We’re not that far along. I have to wait to make sure C. C. is O.K. tomorrow before we make any decisions.”
When asked if he would consider leaving Phelps in the rotation, Girardi quickly responded: “I’m not there. You guys know I won’t talk about it two minutes after the game. I know you have to ask.”
Girardi was then asked a variation of the question: Regardless of Phelps, is Nova's job secure? Said the manager: "You can ask it another way. Our plan is to have him start, and we’ll see what happens." But even if he keeps his job for now, if "what happens" going forward looks anything like what happened last night, or what's been happening since the All-Star break, Girardi's decision will be a lot easier to make.