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Entries in Ivan Nova (5)


Can Boston Handle Nova's Low Heat?

Historically, Red Sox hitters have tagged Ivan Nova. The Yankees righty takes the mound  tonight having allowed a career .298 batting average, a .375 on-base percentage and a .430 slugging percentage against the Sox, essentially turning the average Boston batter into Dustin Pedroia circa 2013.

This time could be different, though. The Red Sox have yet to take on the 2013 version of Nova, who has transformed from one of the most homer-prone starting pitchers in the game last season (1.5 home runs allowed per nine innings in 2012) to one if its stingiest with the long ball. With 0.41 home runs surrendered per nine frames, Nova trails just Francisco Liriano (0.34 HR/9), Matt Harvey (0.35), Jhoulys Chacin (0.37) and Clayton Kershaw (0.39) in homer rate among starters throwing 100-plus innings.

Nova has slashed his home run total by pounding hitters at the knees with his fastball, generating lots of weak grounders rather than majestic souvenirs. Boston, however, thrives against knee-high heaters. Who will prevail tonight when a resurgent Nova takes on Boston's low-ball sluggers?

In 2012, Ivan Nova had about as much success with his fastball as Charlie Brown. He served up 14 home runs and allowed batters to slug .597 against his fastball -- only soft-tossers Chris Capuano, Jake Westbrook, Bronson Arroyo and Bruce Chen got hit harder. This year, though? Nova has allowed only three homers off his fastball, and he has an opponent slugging percentage (.398) that's comfortably below the major league average for starting pitchers (.442) in 2013.

Keeping his fastball low has been key for Nova. Check out his fastball location last year, and then in 2013:

Nova's fastball location, 2012


Nova's fastball location, 2013


He located about 29 percent of his fastballs to the lower third of the strike zone in 2012, but he has bumped that figure up to 40 percent this year. You might also notice that Nova is throwing many of those low fastballs to his arm side (about 57 percent of his low fastballs have been thrown to his arm side this year, up from just 31 percent in 2012).

Throwing more low, arm-side heat, Nova has increased his ground ball rate with his fastball from a league average 44 percent in 2012 to 54 percent. The only AL starters burning worms more often with their fastball are Rick Porcello, Doug Fister, Joe Saunders and Derek Holland.

Nova's new fastball approach will be tested against the Sox, who have collectively cranked 16 home runs against low heat (fourth-most in the majors) and slugged an MLB-best .505. David Ortiz (.726 slugging percentage vs. low fastballs), Mike Napoli (.659), Pedroia (.536) and Daniel Nava (.500) have done the most damage when pitchers throw low gas. Will Big Papi (a career .308/.400/.615 hitter in 15 PA versus Nova) continue to own Nova, or will the new-look Yankee scorch the earth against the Sox? Stay tuned.


Pitchers who have allowed the most extra base hits

Earlier in the week, the Yankees opened up a “huge” lead of a 1.5 games because the Orioles stumbled and dropped three of four, including two of three to the Blue Jays.

Well, guess what? The Yankees lost ugly to the Blue Jays last night, 6-0, and have now dropped two of three overall (and the third time in five games) and their lead is now one game and one game in the (all together now) all important loss column.

We may have also have seen the last of Ivan Nova (12-8) in an important game after he allowed four runs and six hits in 4.2 innings, who walked two and struck out four. Two of the hits he allowed were of the extra-base variety.  In Nova’s last two starts, he’s lasted all of seven innings and has allowed seven runs on six extra base hits.

This season, Nova has thrown a lot of pitches in the middle of the plate and he has paid the price

Ivan Nova has allowed 52 doubles, seven triples, and 28 homers

But this is nothing new this season for Ivan, who has often been terrible. Nova leads the majors in allowing extra base hits and was the inspiration of this list of pitchers who have surrendered the most extra base hits.

This is a great list because it is a telling stat about the pitcher’s effectiveness.

Here are clues to looking at the list below:

  • Ignore the won-list record.
  • Look at the ERAs and you will see only six these 25 pitchers have an ERA below 4.00.
  • You will see only four below 3.90.
  • You will see only Hiroki Kuroda and Matt Harrison with ERAs below 3.50.
  • You will see Ivan Nova on top.
1 Ivan Nova 87 NYY 28 12 8 .600 5.02
2 Ian Kennedy 84 ARI 31 14 11 .560 4.14
3 Bruce Chen 80 KCR 33 11 13 .458 5.13
4 Jon Lester 78 BOS 32 9 14 .391 4.94
5 Phil Hughes 78 NYY 31 16 13 .552 4.10
6 Jeremy Guthrie 78 TOT 32 7 12 .368 4.82
7 Mike Leake 76 CIN 29 8 9 .471 4.73
8 Luke Hochevar 74 KCR 31 8 15 .348 5.43
9 Clayton Richard 74 SDP 32 14 13 .519 3.91
10 Henderson Alvarez 73 TOR 30 9 14 .391 4.91
11 Randy Wolf 71 TOT 30 5 10 .333 5.65
12 Ervin Santana 71 LAA 29 9 12 .429 4.93
13 Joe Blanton 71 TOT 30 9 13 .409 4.86
14 Rick Porcello 70 DET 30 9 12 .429 4.68
15 Jason Vargas 70 SEA 32 14 11 .560 3.94
16 Tommy Hanson 70 ATL 30 13 9 .591 4.38
17 Ricky Romero 69 TOR 31 9 14 .391 5.76
18 Hiroki Kuroda 69 NYY 31 14 11 .560 3.34
19 Ubaldo Jimenez 68 CLE 31 9 17 .346 5.55
20 Mat Latos 68 CIN 32 13 4 .765 3.52
21 James Shields 67 TBR 32 15 9 .625 3.62
22 Tim Lincecum 67 SFG 32 10 15 .400 5.15
23 Edwin Jackson 67 WSN 29 9 10 .474 3.77
24 Matt Harrison 67 TEX 31 18 10 .643 3.26
25 Dan Haren 67 LAA 29 12 12 .500 4.32
Provided by Baseball-Reference.comView Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/28/2012.

Ivan Nova Versus Lefties

Ivan Nova hasn't lost a game for the New York Yankees since June 3rd of last season. And while wins and losses are the worst gauges of a pitcher's performance, his streak of 14 wins dating back to June 10th of 2011 is impressive nonetheless.

What's especially impressive has been Nova's performance against left-handed hitters.  Since the start of his streak on June 10th, Ivan Nova has held lefties to a .227 batting average and a .285 wOBA, compared to .274 and .324 to righties respectively.  He's given up just three HRs to lefties in those 20 games, compared to nine HRs to righties.

Ivan Nova Pitch Location to LHB, June 10th - PresentIvan Nova vs. LHB, June 10th to PresentNova has kept the ball away from lefties for the most part and limited the damage. His sinking fastball down and away has likely contributed much to his overall success. While the win streak is bound to end at some point this season, Nova should continue to see good results if he keeps up this pitching pattern.