First Pitch: Could Nova be odd man out?

March, 25, 2012
The general consensus is that Freddy Garcia, Michael Pineda or Phil Hughes will be the odd man out when Joe Girardi makes his final decision on his pitching rotation to start the regular season.

But maybe Ivan Nova should be added to that list as well?

Yes, Nova finished fourth in the American League Rookie of the Year voting a year ago, after posting a 16-4 record with a 3.70 ERA in the regular season.

But he's got the worst numbers of any of the Yankees' six starters this spring, by far. In five starts, Nova is 1-2 with a 6.86 ERA, having given up 15 earned runs on 23 hits in 19 2/3 innings of work, including five home runs.

In his last start, on Friday against the Twins, Nova was perfect through four innings, but then surrendered four runs in the fifth and sixth.

"He’s had a couple bad innings that have cost him," Girardi said on Saturday. "If you watched his first four innings yesterday, I mean, he was lights out. And then he missed some spots and he paid for it. But that’s something that you have to correct, and you have to correct quickly."

Hughes has been the Yankees' best starter this spring, with a 2.03 ERA. Garcia's ERA is down to 2.92 after pitching 4 1/3 shutout innings against the Tigers on Saturday. And Pineda's slowly upping the velocity on his fastball, and has an ERA of 3.97.

Nova has talent, to be sure. But he's also only 25 years old, and has options left, so he could be returned to the minor leagues -- at least for a spell.

This is the big leagues -- if you want to stay up here, you have to earn it.

UP NOW: More on Garcia's strong start on Saturday, as well as the latest on Joba Chamberlain.

ON DECK: I'll be at Steinbrenner Field for Sunday's 1:05 p.m. game against a Detroit Tigers split-squad. It's Pineda's turn to take the ball.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Would you consider leaving Nova out of the rotation to start the season?
Kieran Darcy is an staff writer. He joined ESPN in August 2000 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, where he played four years of JV basketball.
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Jacoby Ellsbury
.271 16 70 71
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
WM. Tanaka 13
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146