It’s fair to say Ivan Nova is on pretty nice roll right now. He is 11-0 dating back to early June and 7-0 with a 3.45 ERA over seven starts since returning from the minor leagues at the end of July. This includes seven innings of two-run ball in a win over the Blue Jays last night.
Nova is building a pretty strong case to be the Yankees’ No. 2 starter in the playoffs and with 15 wins, he should get plenty of votes for the American League Rookie of the Year award. Most sane baseball fans should be content to leave it at that, but Rob Parker of ESPN New York is here to tell you that the greatness of Nova is yet to be fully appreciated.
New York hasn’t seen a rookie stud pitcher like this since Doc Gooden went 17-9 for the Mets in 1984. Of course, Nova doesn’t have the strikeout magic that Gooden had. But he gets outs and wins.
Yes, that just happened. Parker is comparing Ivan Nova and his 3.99 FIP to Dwight Gooden, who had one of the best rookie seasons of all-time when he posted a 1.69 FIP for the Mets in 1984. Making this an argument about wins is about as intellectually lazy as you can get.
I don’t want to take anything away from Nova, because he has pitched quite well recently, but his numbers are actually very close to Jon Niese, who posted a 4.20 ERA (4.10 FIP, 3.89 xFIP) as a rookie with the crosstown Mets last season. A nice year, yes, but Nova’s contributions wouldn’t look nearly impressive if he was pitching somewhere else.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.