First Pitch: Pressure's on Nova

April, 26, 2013
Is Ivan Nova pitching for his job Friday night?

Probably not -- not yet, anyway. But Nova must start performing better in order to remain in the Yankees' rotation.

Nova is currently 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA. He hasn't lasted more than five innings in any of his three starts thus far. His last time out, last Sunday against the Blue Jays, he got a no-decision, but gave up four runs on seven hits (plus four walks) in five innings of work.

Who might replace Nova in the rotation? Eventually, Michael Pineda could take somebody's spot. In the short term, the Yankees could turn to long man David Phelps -- although Phelps' last two outings haven't been good, either. Or they could reach down to Triple-A for 25-year-old lefty Vidal Nuno, who's 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, with 26 strikeouts and just two walks in 23 1/3 innings pitched. Nuno was just named the International League Pitcher of the Week.

Also, Chien-Ming Wang -- remember him? -- is 1-1 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts at Triple-A.

Regardless, the fact remains, Nova needs to step up. Yes, he won 16 games in 2011, and 12 in 2012. But his ERA spiked from 3.70 in '11 to 5.02 in '12, and it's not trending in the right direction now, either.

UP NOW: Andrew Marchand's take on Robinson Cano, who hit his seventh home run in April in the Yankees' 5-3 win on Thursday. Plus, my take on Hiroki Kuroda's unusual outing Thursday, and other notes.

ON DECK: The Yanks will play the second of four against the Blue Jays on Friday night, first pitch at 7:05 p.m. Toronto will send Aaron Laffey, who was just released by the Mets, to the hill -- scheduled starter Josh Johnson has been scratched because of right triceps tightness. Marchand will be your man at the Stadium.

QUESTION: How confident are you that Nova can turn it around?
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