Ivan Nova: Domination

April 9, 2012; Baltimore, MD, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Ivan Nova (47) pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Ivan Nova was a blast to watch last night. It was the very opposite of his last (spring training) start where he had virtually no command of any of his pitches, lasting 2.2 innings while allowing five earned runs (without recording a single groundout). He tossed seven frames last night and struck out seven batters without issuing a walk (with five groundouts against two flyouts). His command was exquisite (92 pitches, 66 strikes). He fell behind just a few times and it was Matt Wieters that made him pay, first with a homer on a 2-0 count, then a double on a 2-1 pitch (he eventually came around to score Baltimore's second and final run).

Nova continued his dominant regular season pitching. He's 13-0 with a 3.20 ERA over his last 17 regular season starts (unfortunately marred by that poor ALDS start).

His fastball averaged more than 93 MPH, which was faster than any other Yankee starter so far. The 10 hits were a lot (the O's had a .429 BABIP), but Nova held Baltimore to 2-12 with RISP, and, of course, the fact that he didn't walk anyone reduced potential damage.

If it wasn't Nova's first start of the year, I'm sure Joe Girardi would've let him pitch beyond 92 pitches; he never threw more than 18 in any inning. With a bit more leeway, he could've completed the contest.

His best pitch (via linear weights) was his fastball. He threw it 51 times, yet recorded just one swing and miss. It was effective because he located it (35 strikes), and when it was put into play, generally turned into an out. He recorded the most swings and misses with his nasty curveball though, that he threw a total of 22 times. He also featured a slider/cutter to keep hitter off balance and a "show-me" changeup.

When batters fell behind against him, they hardly had a chance. He got two strikes on 14 batters and retired 13 of them. The big thing with Nova was efficiency; are you listening Phil Hughes?

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