Yankees dump Ivan Nova from rotation for David Phelps

6 Comments

Ivan Nova has been a mess in the second half, including back-to-back ugly starts in which he lasted just 2.1 and 4.2 innings, and today manager Joe Girardi dumped him from the Yankees’ rotation.

David Phelps will take Nova’s place against the Red Sox tomorrow, with Nova being available out of the bullpen for what would presumably only be low-leverage action.

Nova went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 165 innings last season and headed into the all-star break this year 10-3 with a 3.92 ERA in 110 innings, but has a 7.05 ERA and .309 opponents’ batting average in 11 second-half starts with a stint on the disabled list with a shoulder injury mixed in.

Phelps has a 3.81 ERA and 50/21 K/BB ratio in 10 starts, plus a 2.76 ERA in 22 relief outings.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.