January 20, 2011

Yankees’ rotation: Ivan Nova vs. Sergio Mitre

Both Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre are expected to fill out the back of the Yankees’ rotation. One will get the boot to the bullpen if Andy Pettitte opts to return, or if Brian Cashman swings a late deal for a starter.

To make this more interesting, let’s say Pettitte is coming back, thus leaving Joe Girardi to decide between Nova or Mitre for the No. 5 spot. Keep in mind the Yankees might need a fifth starter just three times in April.

Before I go any further, I’d like to note Brian Cashman stated Joba Chamberlain is a reliever once again in yesterday’s Rafael Soriano press conference. “Joba is a bullpen guy, for the 200th time.”

Ivan Nova:
Nova broke into the majors last season with a couple relief appearances, seven straight starts, and then one final relief appearance. He pitched into the sixth inning in four of his starts, but never reached the seventh.

He wound up with a 4.50 ERA in 42 innings, but that’s fairly impressive considering who he had to face. In fact, 27-1/3 of those innings were against the Red Sox, Rays or Blue Jays — three potent offenses last season.

He proved he could dominate in Triple-A last year, posting a 2.86 ERA in 145 innings. If he’s not in the rotation, I think he’ll be a long reliever with the Yankees.

Sergio Mitre:
In Mitre’s seven seasons, he’s been placed on the 60-day DL twice and the 15-day DL twice too. He spent 49 days on the DL with a strained oblique last season, but in the little time he spent on the field (54 innings) he made it count.

Below are his splits between starts and relief appearances.

I know it’s a small sample size, but maybe he’s found his calling in the bullpen. He’s not your prototypical reliever, averaging just 89.5 mph on his fastball in 2010, but he has found success with his changeup.

He has far more major league experience than Nova, but only one extra year of AL East experience.

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