While it isn't taking Javy's spot in the rotation 2 weeks ago like it should have been, Ivan Nova will make his Yankee debut tonight against Toronto.
Nova has been the best and most consistent pitcher on the SWB roster in Triple-A this year. In 23 starts, he is 12-3 with a 2.86 ERA, 1.26WHIP, and 115 Ks to 48 BB for a respectable 2.40 K/BB ratio. Perhaps the best thing about Nova is that he provides length out there on the mound. In his last 10 starts, he has not gone fewer than 6 innings and in 7 of those 10 he went at least 6.2. For the season he has pitched 145 innings in his 23 appearances, which comes out to just below 6.1 innings per start, so you know there aren't many (if any) 3- or 4-inning Javy or A.J. bombjob outings in there.
Nova works with 3 pitches: fastball, changeup, curve. He works primarily with the fastball, usually between 92-94MPH, and is good at keeping it down in the zone. The changeup is his secondary pitch and the curve is above average, but inconsistent. When Nova has one or both working and can work both sides of the strike zone with his heater, he is tough to handle.
With all that in mind, and knowing that the Yanks are facing a slugging team tonight, what can/should we expect from Nova? In a perfect world I would say I'd like to see his line look something like this:
6-7 IP, 4-5 H, 1-2 BB, 2-3 ER, 5-6 K
But in reality, I think I would be happy with this:
5-6 IP, 6-8 H, 2-3 BB, 3-4 ER, 3-4 K
Anything in between those 2 would be more than acceptable, especially given the power the Jays have in their lineup. If Nova can keep the ball down tonight as he usually tries to do, I think he will do fine. If he gets the ball up, he'll be in trouble. There's a lot of opportunity for Nova tonight, both in establishing a role for the remainder of this season and maybe, just maybe garnering consideration for the postseason roster, and in starting to establish himself as a contender for a rotation spot for 2011. It should be interesting to watch tonight and I am bummed out that I have to miss it being back out here, YES-less, in Wisconsin.
For a much better-written profile on Nova, check out RAB's Prospect Profile from last December.