(Is time up for Ivan The Terrible?)
It's been exactly 4 weeks to the day since Ivan Nova left his last start and hit the DL. Prior to the Cleveland doubleheader he was talked about as the likely second starter, at least before feeling a tweak in his left side while playing catch the day before. That issue was immediately talked down as nothing serious by both Joe and Cash, and yet here we are almost 2 weeks later with Nova still not back on the active roster and with there still being no announced plan to get him back on. Pitching has been the strength of this team this season, especially lately, so it begs the question. Have the Yankees been stalling in bringing Nova back? Do they even want to?
The reason I ask is it seems like this weekend would have been the perfect time if Nova was ready to go. Andy is back on the DL and the team didn't fully commit to Vidal Nuno as his replacement, juggling the rotation at each chance to minimize the number of times that spot came around. Nuno is starting Saturday after making a relief appearance Tuesday night and he probably won't be able to throw a full starter's compliment of pitches. Nova could have easily been slotted into that start on Saturday on a similar pitch count with Nuno as his bullpen handcuff and he was never even mentioned as an option.
Of course this could just mean that Nova still hasn't recovered from his side strain or whatever that mysterious second injury was. The lack of information provided on the injury by the Yankees and the recent disagreeing statements about their handling of and plans for Nova don't make it seem like that's the case. Before Wednesday night's game, Joe made it sound like they were still taking it slow with Nova and weren't close to activating him. Cash made it sound like the exact opposite last night, like Nova was ready to go and that he would be back "soon."
We know Nova is healthy enough to pitch, as he's been throwing in ExST games and regular side sessions for a while down in Tampa. The team said his side setback was nothing serious and they've treated him like that by continuing to let him pitch. There have been opportunities to add him to the roster both as a reliever or a starter recently and the Yanks have not activated him, and now the manage and GM don't sound like they're on the same page when discussing Nova's status. You can see how all of this adds up and it makes me wonder if they really want Nova back in the mix.
Phelps has been much better than him, Hughes has too despite the really bad start, and they want to keep a spot reserved for Andy. The bullpen has been excellent, both the usual suspects and the new kids on the block, and there's no argument that can be made for Nova deserving a spot there over anybody except maybe Dellin Betances. There's nowhere to put Ivan right now and with the way he's pitched over the last year plus there's little reason to make room for him. Nova might have pitched himself out of a job, a job he was already in the process of losing before he got hurt, and he could be on his way back to Triple-A. This, of course, is just my own speculation and reading into a situation, but if this is what the Yankees are doing I can't really say I blame them.