Sending a Message?

I’m not buying the Yankees explanation for skipping Ivan Nova’s turn in the rotation. Here’s Joe Girardi’s quote when asked about it:

If you start moving everyone back, then Andy is going to move back to seven days (because of Monday’s off-day) and I don’t necessarily want to do that. We’re going to probably get banged tomorrow, too. Hopefully we don’t.”

I believe the part about not wanting to push Andy Pettitte back seven days, but the Yankees could have avoided that by letting Nova pitch and skipping Phil Hughes. Instead they are going to pitch Hughes today and then CC, Kuroda and Pettitte this weekend.

Ok, so it doesn’t sound that suspicious, but here’s the thing. Phil Hughes had a major stomach bug yesterday when the Yankees announced this. in fact, Chad Jennings reported that he looked “rough” in the clubhouse and was trying to eat applesauce. Yet, the Yankees decided to skip Nova and try and start a guy who probably won’t be 100% tonight.

Why did they do that? I suspect its because Nova doesn’t seem to understand that he hasn’t been getting the job done recently. After he got hit around in Detroit last weekend he told the press, “I didn’t feel I pitched that bad” This is very similar to what he said most of the second half of 2012 when he made 11 starts and racked up an ERA of 7.05. So, I would guess that the Yankees are trying to get Nova to shut up and realize that he needs to change his definition of “not that bad”.

The thing is, the Yankees are not getting to $189 million next year without Nova in the rotation. Pettitte and Kuroda are on one-year deals for about $27-million combined. I don’t think the Yankees can afford one of them, let alone both of them. Phil Hughes is in the last year of his deal and he is either going to pitch well enough to merit an expensive contract in free agency or badly enough that the Yankees probably won’t want him in their 2014 rotation. That leaves you with Sabathia and a lot of question marks for 2014. But, an Ivan Nova who pitches around 200 innings this year with an ERA around 4 would be an answer to some of those questions. I think the Yankees are sending him a message to try and get him there.