David Phelps will start in place of Ivan Nova on Tuesday against Boston, according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Nova has been particularly poor in his past two starts and the team will instead use Phelps, who has done relatively well bouncing between the bullpen and the starting rotation, posting a 4-4 record with a 3.34 ERA.
"Whatever role you have put him in he's done a good job for us," Girardi said of Phelps. "He's been a guy that's thrown strikes and quality strikes and located his fastball and mixed his other pitches in. He's done a really good job for us."
Girardi said the Yankees came to their decision after not using Phelps in relief on Saturday and Sunday, allowing him to have a fresh arm for this start. Phelps' past two appearances both came out of the bullpen and he last made a start on Sept. 19 against Toronto, throwing 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball.
"It's awesome," Phelps said. "It's a big game and we need these three coming home. To know they have faith in me to go out there and give us a chance to win is a big deal."
He added: "I want to go out there and pitch, I want to pitch a big game and they don't get a whole lot bigger than down the stretch in a pennant race."
Nova finds himself demoted to the bullpen after giving up seven runs over his past seven innings spanning two starts. He couldn't get out of the third inning against Oakland on Sept. 22, and followed that up with a clunker against Toronto last Thursday, giving up four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The manager said the Yankees still have Nova in their plans, but his struggles as of late caused the team to make the switch. One season after being the team's No. 2 starter in the playoffs, including starting the deciding Game 5 in the ALDS, he's just 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA this year.
Nova knew with the way he was pitching his demotion was a possibility. He acknowledged the team was expecting more from him and he hasn't produced lately. Nova said his command has failed him over his past two starts as he couldn't make it to the fifth inning in either one.
"It's really disappointing," Nova said. "I always want to pitch the last one but it's not a chance right now. (Girardi is) doing what's best for the team and if he thinks that's best, we're going with that."
He added: "I want to pitch. But he's the manager. He goes with what he feels is better."
Barring any last-minute changes, Nova will not be making any more starts this season and will only pitch out of the bullpen, if he's even needed.
"If I'm going to be back on the mound, it's going to be as a reliever. I know a lot of things can change and the last thing I want right now is somebody to get hurt," Nova said. "I want our starting pitchers to throw the ball well and the goal is to win a championship. That's all I want and if I have to pitch out of the bullpen I will."