Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Is Wrong With Ivan Nova?

The Yankees lost the opener of their series in Detroit last night, 7-2 to the Tigers. Justin Verlander (12-7) struck out 14 batters.

It might not have mattered if Ivan Nova (10-6) had also pitched well, but his slump continued: 5 1/3 innings, 11 hits (but no walks), 7 runs (all earned). That he didn't walk anyone, and threw 49 of his 68 pitches for strikes, suggests his control was good. He just got hit hard.

For a while, from late last season through early this season, Nova couldn't lose. But he's won just once since June 17.

He doesn't appear to be hurt, or drinking, or using drugs, or have personal problems. His attitude is good, and his control isn't the issue, either. He's just getting hit.

Hopefully, one good start will turn him around. Let's hope it comes in his next start, probably on Saturday in Toronto.

Also, for the 1st time in 21 games since he came to the Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki was held hitless. And an elbow bruise has convinced the Yankees to shut down top pitching prospect Manny Banuelos for the season. He hasn't pitched since going for Triple-A Scranton on May 18. He's 21, so he should be back just fine next season. He'll probably spend most of 2013 in Scranton with the occasional callup in the event of a starter going down with an injury.

(UPDATE: Going into the 2018 season, Banuelos was 27 and in the Los Angeles Dodgers' minor-league system. He had pitched all of 7 major league games, all with the Atlanta Braves in the 2015 season.)

There were good signs from last night: Joba Chamberlain pitched an inning and 2/3rds without allowing a run, and David Phelps pitched a scoreless inning. Eric Chavez got 3 hits, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano 2 each. And there were no errors.

But the Baltimore Orioles also won, so the Yankee lead was cut to 5 1/2 games, keeping the Magic Number to clinch the East at 48.

Tonight, Phil Hughes starts against Rick Porcello.

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