If one thing can be said about Ivan Nova over his brief career already, it’s that he is very confident.
Confidence in sports is just as important as physical ability. It all starts with the belief that anything is possible – the talent will take care of the rest. Especially for a young starting pitcher in the majors, belief in your ability may be the most important thing.
After his breakout year in 2011, going 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA and starting the rain delayed Game One of the ALDS, Nova absolutely tanked in ’12, succumbing to the “sophomore slump” big time. He went 12-8, 5.02 and was left off the playoff roster.
After a season like that, any player would be gunshy and skeptical of the future. Not Nova. He fully believes he will be in the starting rotation this season.
“I’m going to be there,” Nova said after working out at the Yankees’ spring training complex in Tampa, Fla. “I know what I’ve got and I know what I can do and I just have to do it.”
Nova will likely have to compete with David Phelps for the fifth spot in the rotation. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes are all penciled in above.
Phelps contributed nicely last year, becoming both a spot-starter and long relief guy. The competition will be tough for Nova, who is hoping to recapture 2011.
“I have a lot of expectations for this year,” Nova added. If he can get back to ’11 form and maybe even improve, the Yankees will have a lot of expectations as well.