Monday, August 6, 2012
After allowing a career-high nine runs and 10 hits in five innings and losing 11-5, the 25-year-old righty said he’s looking forward to tonight’s outing in Detroit, where he may not have much margin for error with Justin Verlander starting for the Tigers.
It has been an uneven season for Nova, at 10-5 with a 4.53 ERA — 7.54 with no wins in the last four starts. He knows he has to be more consistent and less hittable.
I’m guessing he’s the only one looking forward to this game.
While I do think Nova’s shown flashes of becoming a good pitcher, his last four starts have me concerned. On the year, batters are hitting .283/.342/.506 against him. While it’s tempting to hand wave a lot of that away as a BABIP fluctuation that should correct at some point (he’s got a BABIP against of .328 this year compared to a .287 career mark entering this year), the fact is he’s probably throwing too many hittable pitches and it’s not all bad luck. I think/hope he’ll pitch better down the stretch, but at this point you have to think he’s the odd man out of the postseason rotation if by some miracle the Yankees get there and have a healthy Andy Pettitte.
If we take a look at Nova’s underlying numbers split using three selective end points, we may be able to see what’s working and what isn’t.
fip: Fielding-independent pitching
xfip: Expected fielding-independent pitching
bb/bf: walks and hbp per batters faced
k/bf: strikeouts per batters faced
babip: Batting average on balls in play against
ld%: Percentage of batted balls that were line drives
gb%: Percentage of batted balls that were ground balls
fb%: Percentage of batted balls that were fly balls
iffb%: Percentage of batted balls that were infield flies
swing%: Percentage of pitches swung at
contact%: Percentage of swings that made contact
The number that really sticks out to me is the ground ball rate. When he was having his best run of the season he was getting a lot of ground balls, and he also had a lower HR/FB rate. There wasn’t really any discernible difference in the percentage of pitches batters swung at or made contact with, but they just weren’t doing as much with the pitches. He was also walking fewer batters and striking out more batters on a percentage basis.Outside of that stretch he’s been pretty bad. His average fastball velocity was 93.1 in the first set of games, 92.6 in the second set and 92.8 in the third set, for whatever that’s worth.
I don’t think we should worry all that much about Nova going forward. I see more good than bad in his overall performance this year and xFIP (3.94) mostly agrees. Let’s hope he can rediscover those ground balls.
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