The Yankees are going to make the playoffs. Barring a complete Metsian meltdown, it's probably safe to number the chickens (or at least start taking mental inventory).
For the sake of argument, let's assume the season ends today. Boston takes the East, the Tigers take the Central, the Rangers win the West and the Yankees "settle" for the Wild Card. This would ensure the Yankees would be at homefield disadvantage throughout the playoffs, sending them to Texas for the ALDS.
At this point, a few things are for certain: CC will pitch Game 1, Eduardo Nunez will be securely fastened to the bench, The Binder will cause great rage and Brett Gardner will be benched the minute an opposing starter puts his mitt on his right hand. What has yet to come into focus is who takes the mound after CC.
Most of the discussion has centered around the Yankees' scrap heap superstars, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, but perhaps it would be best that youth be served by handing the ball to Ivan Nova in Game 2.
The Not CC's hit the road after the jump...
Let's get this out of the way now: Ivan Nova has been very good up this point of the season, he never should have been sent down to Scranton Wilkes-Barre in the first place, he has more than earned a rotation spot since his return and it would be a complete joke for him to lose his spot to Iron Chef Hughes.
As good as Nova has been this season (19 GS, 11-4, 11 QS, 3.85 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 4.11 xFIP) his numbers on the road have been even better. So why is the 24-year-old bowling baller being overlooked as a potential #2 starter in the playoffs?
Honestly, Hughes and Burnett are only included because they're not CC and thus could be considered for the #2 starter spot for whatever reason The Binder deems logical.
Amongst the realistic candidates, the numbers seem to raise the question, "why not Nova?" Small sample size is in effect a bit (roughly 50 TBF less than Colon and Garcia), but considering how consistent his numbers are and how he is constantly improving, heavy regression shouldn't be expected. His ERA and FIP trail Garcia by the slimmest of margins and his xFIP...well, that's a bit of a gulf between he and Colon. Despite not taking the lead in terms of runs, it's the batted ball numbers that could push Nova to the front of the line.
Remember, in this hypothetical the Yankees open the playoffs against the Rangers. Considering they would be facing the team with the 2nd highest SLG in baseball, it would be in the team's best to shy away from giving up hard hit balls. Nova falls behind Colon in line drive percentage, but more than makes up for it with an absurd ground ball rate. He also stays far, far away from the fly ball, which (obviously) keeps him away from home runs; a decent strategy when the opposition can throw Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli and Ian Kinsler on the field every night.
So play manager for a moment. Do you risk throwing the kid into the fire against a team full of mashers? Do you trust Freddy's smoke and mirrors to hold up or The Fat to be...well, fat? Does Phil Hughes start because he won 18 games?