Since the All-Star break, Ivan Nova has pitched to a 7.05 ERA. Opposing hitters are batting .309 against him over that time. And last night, he broke the franchise record for extra-base hits allowed in a season. And so, should the Yankees participate in the ALDS this year — and last night's loss 6-0 loss to Toronto dropped their lead in the East to one game, so that's no sure thing — Nova's chances of getting a postseason start aren't very good. Three of the four spots are all but guaranteed to go to veterans CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Andy Pettitte (assuming they're all healthy), and Phil Hughes, as inconsistent as he can be, would likely snag the fourth spot.
In fact, Nova's been struggling so much lately that if the Yankees' are in a must-win situation when Nova's turn in the rotation comes up again on Tuesday, there's no guarantee he'll even be allowed to make that start. "We’ll see," said Joe Girardi, when asked about sending Nova to the mound again during the regular season. "I’ll worry about tomorrow. That’s five days away." (David Phelps would be the logical candidate to make that start if Nova doesn't.)
Even before this season turned so ugly, Nova had been identified as a pitcher who'd benefited from a fair amount of luck during his career. Still, a year ago this time, he was the No. 2 man in the team's rotation. (He pitched well in relief of CC Sabathia after Game 1 of the 2011 ALDS was suspended due to rain, but lasted only two innings in the decisive game five.) Now, still just 25, he's pitched himself out of a spot in a postseason rotation (assuming, again, that his team advances far enough to need one of those).
At least someone has confidence in Nova these days: Nova himself. Here's the righty, talking about the possibility of being dropped from the rotation:
“I’m not thinking about that," Nova said. "I’m going to keep working like I’m going to start next time. If he don’t give me next time, what can I do? I’m confident, I’ll still work and hopefully I can get the next one and then be in the playoff rotation.”
We suppose that's a good mindset to have — to keeping working and hope to get another chance. But it's looking more and more like that chance won't come until next year.