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Trying (and Failing) to Make Sense of Ivan Nova's Struggles

(H/T Texas Leaguers)

I'm really not a fan of being unable to understand things. I think that's why I've bought into the statistical measurements of baseball so much, because it's a way to understand a lot of the whys, even if it's not a perfect explanation of everything. Even with numbers, Ivan Nova and his sudden uptick in strikeouts and lack of ground balls has me confused, but maybe I'm missing something.

Numbers, so many numbers. Nova has thrown his fastball less, which is obvious if you have seen his starts. It's almost maddening how he stays away from the pitch for long stretches at a time. You can only yell "mix it up!" and "throw something else!" at the TV so many times before you realize that he just isn't going to. He's a bit like the anti-Hughes in that aspect, where Hughes falls in love with his fastball and won't throw anything else. Those patterns lead to getting hit hard, predictably, and maybe that has been some of Nova's problem as well. It wouldn't be surprising.

The hits that have gone for extra bases against Nova are insane. When a guy known for his groundball rates is suddenly at or near the top of extra base hits allowed, something has gone terribly wrong. The BABIP of batters he's faced has risen from .283 last year to .334 this season. I think it's fair to say a good number of hits against him have been perfectly placed, and yesterday alone was evidence of that, but I just can't think it's all bad luck. But what is it? I wish I knew.

Maybe it's the infamous Sophomore slump. I'm not ready to say that this is the pitcher Ivan Nova is and last year was a fluke, but I'd be lying if I said it hadn't crossed my mind at least once after seeing him struggle as much as he has. I don't know what's wrong with Ivan Nova and I wish I did. I know that when I post something, you expect me to have answers for you, but in this case I really don't. I'm not ready to give up on Nova, but I just wish I knew a way to explain why this year has been so ugly and give some hope for why it won't last forever. I really hate that I can't do that.