When Yankees pitchers are healthy, it's a crowded rotation. Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda headline the group, with a veteran presence in CC Sabathia, and two young kids in Luis Severino and Nathan Eovaldi. The Yankees have made it clear that they are not ready to move Sabathia to the bullpen full-time, so the only way Ivan Nova fits into the picture is if they go with a six-man rotation next year.
Nova didn't make his first start of the year until June 24, as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. He threw 6.2 innings of shutout baseball, and that was his only shutout of the year. Over the course of his entire season, Nova has started 14 games, and has a 5.11 ERA, 4.92 FIP, a 1.40 WHIP, and a HR/9 rate of 1.19. Those numbers rank among the worst in the league for pitchers with at least 50 innings pitched.
Nova, 28, has had a very rough year. I am a firm believer that, if guys like Pineda, Eovaldi, and Sabathia had not come down with injuries, Nova might not have cracked the rotation. As the 2015 season inches closer to the end, the 2015-16 free agent class looks stacked. Big-time pitchers like David Price, Johnny Cueto, and (possibly) Zack Greinke will be available on the open market this winter.
Price is an interesting option. Going from a "re-tooling" team in Detroit to a legitimate contender in Toronto is quite the jump, but he has handled it well. Over the course of the entire season, Price has a 2.46 ERA, 2.83 FIP, a 1.08 WHIP, and a 0.72 HR/9 rate. He is currently on a one-year, $19 million contract. That price tag is only going to go up, and the major question is if Toronto will be able to afford that raise, and if Toronto can't hold onto him, would the Yankees be the right fit? Price doesn't give up too many homers, which is good for Yankee Stadium, however, his fly-ball percentage is 36.8%, which is in the bottom-45 in the league. Spending his first half of the season in a pitcher-friendly park in Detroit makes me worried that, if he came to Yankee Stadium, his HR/9 rate would jump, but it doesn't scare me enough to be swayed away from a talent like him.
Greinke is another free agent candidate, but less likely than Price. Greinke has been lights out this season in Los Angeles, with a 1.61 ERA, 2.69 FIP, a 0.85 WHIP, and a HR/9 rate of 0.54. Greinke has the option to opt out of his contract this offseason, and the general consensus is that he will, but only for more money from the Dodgers. It will be tough for him not to go back, considering L.A.'s massive payroll, but if they can't reach an agreement, the Yankees should take a stab at him. If Greinke, for some reason, does not opt out, he's set to make $24 million next year.
Ever since being traded to Kansas City, Johnny Cueto has really struggled, lowering his stock. Overall this season, Cueto's ERA is 3.47 with a 3.54 FIP, a 1.08 WHIP, and a 0.96 HR/9 rate. However, since coming to Kansas City at the trade deadline, Cueto's ERA has skyrocketed to 5.43 and 4.30 FIP, his WHIP jumped to 1.42, and his HR/9 rate went up to 1.44. Cueto made just $10 million this past season, but he's still due a pay raise. Cueto has the same fly-ball percentage as Price (36.8%), and in addition with his HR/9 rate, Yankee Stadium may not help his numbers. However, so long as he stays in a reasonable price range, Cashman and company should take a look at him, and his interesting Instagram, this coming offseason. There are plenty of other names that will be out there, such as Jordan Zimmermann, Wei-Yin Chen, Scott Kazmir, and Jeff Samardzija, but Cueto, Price, and Greinke are the best names out there.
This season, the Yankees rotation has had its ups and downs. Sabathia has looked better as of late, while Eovaldi remains out with his elbow injury. The rotation currently sits at 20th in the league with a rotation ERA of 4.30. There are plenty of options when it comes to Nova in 2016. They could move him to the bullpen (after all, he can't be worse than Chris Capuano. Right? ...RIGHT?!), or they could trade him for another asset. Nova is a nice piece to have, and he might fit well in the Yankee bullpen. But, unless the Yankees do the unthinkable and put Sabathia in the bullpen, there's no room for Nova in the rotation. What do you think the Yankees should do with Nova in the offseason? And if the Yankees do try to grab another starter, who do you think they should pursue?