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Yankees 2015 Roster Report Card: Ivan Nova

Ivan Nova struggled all season after returning from Tommy John surgery in June.

Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: D

2015 Statistics: 17 G, 5.07 ERA, 4.87 FIP, 6.03 K/9, 3.16 BB/9, 94 IP

2016 Contract Status: Arbitration Eligible

Ivan Nova made his major league debut with the Yankees in 2010. Over the past five seasons, Nova has spent most of his time in the Yankees' rotation where he has been wildly inconsistent. For whatever reason, he has a tendency to follow up a bad year with a much better year.

Season IP K/9 BB/9 ERA FIP
2010 42.0 5.57 3.64 4.50 4.36
2011 165.1 5.33 3.10 3.70 4.01
2012 170.1 8.08 2.96 5.02 4.60
2013 139.2 7.49 2.84 3.10 3.47

Nova's 2013 season was his best yet, but he didn't get much of a chance to replicate that performance in 2014. He posted a 8.27 ERA and 6.91 FIP through four starts before he had to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Nova spent the rest of the 2014 season and offseason going through the rehab process.

It typically takes pitchers 12-18 months to return from TJ surgery, so Nova was expected to miss the first few months of the 2015 season. He finally made his season debut on June 26th against the Phillies, and pitched 6.2 scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and striking out one batter. That ended up being Nova's only scoreless outing of the season. Only six of his 17 starts were quality starts, and Nova pitched worse as the season went on. He gave up seven runs in four innings against the Astros in late August, and three starts later he gave up six earned runs through one and two-thirds innings against the Blue Jays.

At the time, the Yankees were chasing the Blue Jays for the division title and it was still in reach, so the Yankees announced that they were removing Nova from the rotation. His command just wasn't there, and like Joe Girardi said, command can be one of the last things to return after a pitcher has Tommy John surgery. Luis Severino had been called up to pitch in CC Sabathia's spot while he was on the disabled list, and he was one of the best starters during that stretch. Since Sabathia had returned and was pitching well with his new knee brace, the rotation could work without Nova. Unfortunately, Nathan Eovaldi was already on the disabled list with elbow inflammation, so when Masahiro Tanaka pulled a hamstring, the Yankees had no real choice but to put Nova back into the rotation. Nova has a history of pitching well after being demoted, and in his first start back he was able to hold the Blue Jays to just one run over five and two-thirds innings, but he gave up nine runs in his last two starts of the season and certainly wouldn't have been in the postseason rotation had the Yankees advanced past the Wild Card game.

As of right now, the Yankees' 2016 rotation should be the same as it was last season: Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova. The problem is that Severino appears to be blocked, and he pitched so well during the last few weeks of the season (8.09 K/9, 2.89 ERA) that he was able to earn a spot in the rotation then and should have one moving forward. Since Nova is such an inconsistent pitcher, and had the worst season of anyone in the rotation, he's probably the most likely starter to be traded over the offseason. He's set to become a free agent in 2017, so the Yankees are running out of time to get something back for him. If he does stay on the team, it's hard to imagine him pitching in the rotation unless the Yankees go with a six-man rotation.