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After his performance Wednesday night against the Orioles, it will take an awful lot for Ivan Nova not to be in the starting rotation when the season begins.
The Orioles brought a pretty good lineup to Tampa–Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Vlad Guerrero, Luke Scott, Mark Reynolds, Matt Wieters…I mean, a lot of major league hitters. Nova faced 19 of them over 6 innings and didn’t give up a hit.
He plunked the first batter of the game, then retired 10 in a row (including a double-play ball). After another batter reached on error, Nova retired 7 in a row. It was the kind of performance that would have you calling your friends and saying, “Turn on the game right now,” if it wasn’t in Spring Training.
March success doesn’t always add up to April-October success (see Burnett, AJ and Weaver, Jeff), but when a job is open like it is in the Yankee rotation, this is all you have to go on. And at a time of spring when pitchers are being stretched out and being measured a lot more closely than before, Nova threw lights out.
While the day began with the possibility of Nova opening the season at Triple-A because of how well both Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon had been pitching, it now seems almost laughable that a healthy Nova will not make the Yankee rotation.
Listen to Ivan Nova talking to reporters after his 6 no-hit innings against the Orioles: