Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Quick Pitch: Nova, Mitchell might provide more value to Yankees' pen

Spring Training Game 14: Yankees 6, Red Sox 3 (Yanks spring record: 4-8-2)

New York Yankees right-handers Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell combined for seven innings of one-run ball allowing just four hits and one walk against the majority of the Red Sox regular lineup Monday evening.

Ivan Nova
Photo: Keith Allison
Nova, more so than Mitchell, is being considered for a rotation spot this spring. Nova’s main competition seems to be CC Sabathia, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi has stated numerous times there are no locks for rotation spots. He claims he’s taking the best pitchers north.

It’s hard to believe if Sabathia is healthy that he doesn’t grab the fifth spot especially considering the amount of money he’ll be earning. If the rest of the starting staff is also healthy, Nova will be relegated to the bullpen and I’m beginning to feel this is not a bad thing.

Anyone who reads my work on a regular basis knows I’m not a big fan of Nova. I believe he has potential, but he’s shown to be incredibly streaky and even when he is going good there are arguments that he’s perfected the smoke and mirrors act. It stands to reason that with five healthy starters, Nova would become the long man in the bullpen and it makes sense because he can eat innings when necessary. I’ve got another idea, one which the Yankees may be forced to embrace.

Nova might be better served as a pitcher who can pitch in closer games in the sixth and seventh innings as the right-handed middle reliever. The reason I bring this up is that the young Scranton/NY shuttle relievers have shown plenty of sophomore growing pains this spring. There is time for one or two of them to figure it out, but with Aroldis Chapman out for the season’s first 30 games, the club is already down a reliever. Why not have the best remaining pitcher take important innings when a righty is needed?

This affects Mitchell as well. Does Mitchell provide more value in the bullpen as the long man, or as another go-to righty in the season's first month? I understand and tend to agree with leaving Mitchell stretched out in the minors if all things are equal. Right now that is not the case.

Nick Rumbelow and Nick Goody did not look good in Monday’s game and have been up and down this spring. Branden Pinder has been OK thus far. Jacob Lindgren has already been demoted, and James Pazos might not be far behind based in his performance. The veterans brought in (Vinnie Pestano and Anthony Swarzak) have had varying results and Kirby Yates and Tyler Olsen the only players on the 40-man roster who have not allowed a run in their appearances this spring. Those are not big names. Another option, Johnny Barbato, was impressive in his first couple of appearances and then got knocked around in his last.

The point, the Yankees have no sure things in the bullpen beyond Chasen Shreve, Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman when he’s back. Nova and Mitchell improve the bullpen and if Girardi is set on bring the best arms north, they should be considered for strong bullpen roles relegating the last spot(s) to the shuttle kids.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.