Ivan Nova to start Saturday

Updated: September 12, 2012, 7:02 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

BOSTON -- The New York Yankees will make a move to try to halt their slide in the AL East by replacing the struggling Freddy Garcia in their rotation with Ivan Nova, a 16-game winner last year who has not pitched since Aug. 21.

Manager Joe Girardi said Nova would start Saturday's game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, and Garcia, who had been scheduled to make that start, will return to the bullpen as a long reliever.

"I like the way he threw the other day, so we're going to put him back in the rotation," Girardi said of Nova, who went on the disabled list Aug. 23 with inflammation of the right rotator cuff.

Nova was 9-2 on June 17, but after a run of bad starts in which he went 1-3 with an 8.59 ERA, his record stands at 10-6 with a 4.92 ERA.

Nova threw 40 pitches in a simulated game at Fenway Park on Tuesday and proclaimed himself fit to return to action.

"This guy was really good for us for a substantial period of time, then he ran into some bumps, and we hope he's beyond that," Girardi said. "He was on a roll for us and pitched very well, and we need him to do it again."

In some ways, Nova's season has mirrored that of his team. The Yankees held a 10-game lead in the AL East on July 18, but entering Wednesday they have played .441 ball since (22-28) and found themselves tied for first place in the division with the Baltimore Orioles.

Now Girardi is turning to Nova to give his team a lift in its final 21 games.

"It hasn't been just one thing," Girardi said of the recent play of his team, which has lost nine of its last 14 games, including five of eight on its current road trip. "It's been a few things that we need to play better at.

"We need to swing the bats better when we have opportunities, and we have to pitch better when we have the opportunities."

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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