### Friday, February 15, 2013

## NJ.com: McCullough: Nova hopes to rebound from miserable second half of 2012

TAMPA, Fla. – Do you like sabermetrics? I like sabermetrics. I appreciate how statistics underpin the game. You should remember this, going forward.

As a sabermetrically-inclined person, I looked at some of Yankee starter Ivan Nova’s statistics and saw a pitcher who took a step forward in 2012. He raised his strikeout rate from 5.3 per nine in 2011 to 8.1 last year, while maintaining his walk rate (3.1 in 2011, 3.0 in 2012). He lowered his xFIP from 4.16 to 3.92.

If you subscribe to DIPS* theory, as I do, you would posit that Nova experienced progress from his 16-win campaign in 2011. You might even say he had a good year.

But, of course, Ivan Nova did not have a good year. Ivan Nova had a terrible year. His ERA was 5.03. His ERA was 6.38 after June. He missed two weeks with an inflamed rotator cuff. Manager Joe Girardi twice left him off the postseason roster.

If you’re looking for one way for the Yankees to add to their projected win total, McCullough’s on the right track with this. The question is if Nova’s improved walk and strikeout rate came at the expense of leaving more hittable pitches over the middle of the plate, or if he had some bad fortune last year and can take the gains between 2011 to 2012 forward and pitch closer to that 3.92 xFIP than his 5.02 2012 ERA. Nova’s baseline CAIRO RA is 4.99. If he can pitch to his 80% forecasted RA of 4.36 over 164 innings, that’s a 1.1 win improvement.

I’m cautiously optimistic on Nova, but I was cautiously optimistic all of 2012 too…

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