Ivan Nova was once again excellent last night, holding the Rangers scoreless over 7 and 1/3 innings. While Nova only had 1 strikeout, he had a Chin-Ming Wang like 16 groundball outs. This made him both effective and efficient, as Nova threw only 98 pitches. In fact, Nova probably could have gone longer, but Girardi did not want to push it with his young starter and instead closed it out with Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera. Soriano allowed an inherited runner to score, but that was the only damage of the night.
The blueprint seems pretty straightforward for Nova: if opponents are hitting the ball on the ground, he’s going to do pretty well. Just a couple weeks ago it seemed like Nova was the weak link in this rotation; but after a few quality starts, he has given the Yankees reason to have confidence in him.
Other notable players and their WPAs:
Curtis Granderson: .187
I actually thought Granderson’s WPA would be higher than this. His 2 HRs provided almost all of the Yankee offense. His first homer was against Matt Harrison, a lefty having a good season and throwing in the mid-90s. That sort of a pitcher was absolute death on Granderson last year. Curtis also now leads the AL in homers and would be a leading candidate in the MVP discussion if the season were to end today. That tends to happen when you play a quality centerfield and slug over .600.
Brett Gardner: -.068
Brett’s WPA went down -.040 on his 2nd inning bunt. Assuming the bunt was not his decision, than this is on Girardi. I know I rant about this time and again, but it continues to baffle me why the Yankees are so set on trying to bunt. It rarely ever works and even when it does, it doesn’t improve their chances of scoring. Surely Cashman and various other Yankee executives know this, but have elected not to try and dictate the way Girardi manages. Part of the issue isn’t just bunting, which seems to always cause debate about how worthwhile it is, but also that the Yankee lineup isn’t built to bunt. It’s made up of a bunch of guys who see a ton of pitches and who get on base and have power. You have to let them bat. The Yankees won this game, but they missed a big opportunity to blow it open in the 2nd. Sure, Tex and A-Rod had poor ABs there, but who knows what would have happened if the Yankees hadn’t given away their first out.
Mitch Moreland: -.009
Moreland went 0-3 and yet led the Rangers in WPA (thanks to an error). That’s a pretty good sign for Yankee pitching.