Trading Places?

Wouldn’t it be funny if three starts in 2012 truly indicate a shift of huge proportions and not a simple statistical anomaly? But, so far in 2012 the former top prospect, Phil Hughes, has looked lousy while the not so touted guy, Ivan Nova, has looked sensational.

Let’s start with the bad first and that is Hughes, but there are some reasons for optimism. Hughes spots an ugly ERA of 6.75, but his FIP shows a figure of 5.97. That’s still not good, but there are some encouraging numbers. Start with the strikeouts, 15 in 13.1 innings, that’s a very good sign. Next move to the BABIP of .366, far above his career of .290. That coupled with a higher walk ratio have proven deadly when he gives up a homer and he has given up 4 of them already this year. Now some reasons for concern are he is giving up more flyballs than ever before and despite the talk about his arm being in great shape his fastball is only 0.6 mph faster than last year. (And 0.7mph lower than it was in 2010) I don’t know what it means ultimately, but you have to figure that Hughes is running out of chances with the Yankees. If Pettitte makes it to the majors and Pineda makes it back, Hughes is probably headed to the pen.

Contrast that with Nova who has a better fastball this year and is missing bats like never before. Today he struck out 5, bringing his season total to 20. Nova’s paint a bit of a mixed picture. (They also don’t include today’s start) His BABIP is .417 which means he is suffering from some bad luck. He is walking more guys and giving up more flyballs, yet his 2012 ERA is currently below his career ERA. If Nova was striking out guys at his 2011 rate, his ERA would be a lot higher. So, can he keep up the strikeouts and will his other numbers moderate?

It’s impossible to say, but the first three times through the rotation have had some surprising results.