“No nerves, no pressure at all.” (Tim Britton: Yankees.com)
As said by a rookie pitching for the New York Yankees in New York City, the largest media market in all of sports.
Ivan Nova, or as he is known now as “Super Nova” has proven in only two starts that he can handle the big stage. He given up a combined three earned runs in his first two starts against potent lineups, the Toronto Blue Jays and Chicago White Sox.
He had the league leader in home runs barking at him, and he stood his ground, barking right back at him. There has also been recent rumors of suspicious activity between him and a teammate in the minors, injecting each other with B-12. MLB is even investigating it.
For many, allegations like this could seriously do a number on a pitchers mental psyche, but not Nova. Yesterday, he went out and threw a great game against a good Chicago White Sox lineup, going 5 2/3, allowing five hits, allowing one earned run while striking out seven.
The Yankees have seen many veteran pitchers come and go who simply could not handle the pressures of New York. Guys like Kevin Brown punching a clubhouse wall, Kyle Farnsworth unable to get an out when he’s needed, Jeff Weaver gnawing on his glove in a start against the Red Sox. Heck, our good buddy Carl Pavano even took his four years off due to injuries, but at the same time falling into bad graces with his teammates, questioning his willingness to pitch.
But, a rookie from Scranton, a 23 year old kid is coming into a pitching rotation in shambles. He is going to be counted on down the stretch to win games for the Yankees. And, he shows no signs of worry or doubt on the mound. He is calm, cool, and boy does he have good stuff, possessing a mid 90′s fastball, curveball and changeup.
He embraces the pressure, and pitchers, especially pitchers in New York that have that mindset are here to stay. The Yankees seem to have something special with Nova. They need him to continue to pitch, and pitch well with the current state of the rotation.
And with his relaxed, tranquil demeanor on the mound, combined with his great stuff, there is no reason to say that he cannot rise to the occasion.