First Pitch: Can Yanks count on Nova?

May, 19, 2012
5/19/12
7:00
AM ET
First of all, we need to see whether Ivan Nova even pitches today. He's scheduled to start, despite suffering an ankle injury in his last outing on Monday. But if the ankle bothers him when he warms up, Joe Girardi said he will likely turn to Freddy Garcia or David Phelps.

But what we're really asking here is, can the Yankees count on Nova to be a consistent winner in the rotation the rest of the season?

On first glance, the answer is, yes. Nova went 16-4 a year ago, finishing fourth in the AL Rookie of the Year voting, and he is 4-1 so far in 2012. Looks great, right?

But take a closer look. His won-loss record this season may be nice, but his ERA is 5.44 -- almost two runs higher than last year's 3.70.

Nova has given up five or more runs in three of his past four starts. And he has already surrendered nine home runs -- only five pitchers in Major League Baseball have given up more (one of them being teammate Phil Hughes).

Speaking of Hughes, he has taken the brunt of the criticism when it comes to the Yankees' rotation so far this season, with fans wondering if he's better suited to be a reliever. But even Hughes has a better ERA (5.23) than Nova right now.

Does the 25-year-old Nova have promise? Definitely. Are the Yankees high on him? Absolutely.

But he's far from a given -- on Saturday, and for the foreseeable future.

UP NOW: Wallace Matthews' postgame column from Friday night, on the amazing Andy Pettitte. Also, I wrote a piece on the Yankees' continued woes on offense.

ON DECK: Ian Begley and Matt Ehalt will be in the Bronx later this morning, bringing you the latest Yankees news straight from the clubhouse.

IN THE HOLE: The Yanks and Reds will play the second of this three-game interleague set, first pitch at 1:05 p.m. Nova will be opposed by righty Homer Bailey (1-3, 4.35 ERA).

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How do you feel -- can the Yankees really count on Nova? Register your opinion in the Comments section.
Kieran Darcy is an ESPNNewYork.com 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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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146