Let’s start by comparing two pitchers. Here are 2 pitcher’s stats since the middle of August:
It looks pretty close and neither pitcher looks particularly good, but pitcher B seems to have the edge. Believe it or not, pitcher A is David Phelps and pitcher B is Ivan Nova. Those are the pitchers’ stats since Phelps joined the rotation in August. Here’s a little more detail on the performances.
Obviously, we should look at more than the last 2 months to determine a pitcher’s abilities. Phelps’ season line certainly looks solid: 3.34 ERA backed up by a 3.62 SIERA. In 10 starts this year, he has a 3.81 ERA and a 3.99 SIERA which is still impressive. For what it’s worth, he was also untouchable in the few minor league starts he made throughout the year.
Nova on the other hand is sporting a 5.01 ERA with a much more respectable 3.84 SIERA. As bad as Nova’s looked, a good chunk of it has to be attributed to bad luck. But despite his sparkling SIERA, the actual results certainly count for something. Additionally, he is coming off of two pretty terrible starts so it’s completely understandable why the Yankees would want to skip his turn in the rotation.
Another thing to consider is that by starting Phelps tonight, the Yankees push him out of the bullpen picture for the last 2 games. However, this shouldn’t be much of an issue thanks to C.C. Sabathia’s performance last night. All in all, going with Phelps is probably the right decision simply because of Nova’s recent performance. No matter how you slice it, Nova’s given up a lot of runs lately and it’s hard to imagine his confidence hasn’t been shaken. Neither pitcher has been particularly good lately, but Phelps has at least shown the ability to not completely implode like Nova has in a few of his recent starts. There’s a chance Nova makes the post season roster as a long reliever, but he has most likely pitched his last meaningful inning in 2012. However, he’s definitely a rebound candidate for 2013 based on his peripheral stats.