Ivan Nova will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to a report on outsidepitchmlb.com. Nova was in New York today to get checked out by Yankees' team doctor Chris Ahmad, so it would not surprise me at all if this report is true, and they really did come to this decision.
Nova was placed on the 15-day by the Yankees on Sunday after an MRI revealed the partially torn UCL, but until something official is announced, we don't know how long he'll be out. However, we can assume his season is over.
Nova entered the season as the No. 4 starter, on paper, in the Yankees' rotation behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka. They were really hoping that Nova would be able to carry the momentum of his second half performance last season into 2014, to help their rotation be one of the best in the game.
Nova, however, got off to a terrible start this season, and after holding the Boston Red Sox to two runs in 7-plus innings Sunday night, he was shelled for eight runs on eight homerun -- four homeruns -- before leaving in the middle of the 5th inning in Saturday night's 16-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays because of the injury.
As for who might be able to take over for him in the rotation, lefty Vidal Nuno made a spot-start for the Bombers yesterday in Tampa, rather than having Masahiro Tanaka pitch on short rest, and I was pretty impressed by his performance, as I have been with him every time he takes the mound.
Nuno pitched five shutout innings in the Yankees' 5-1 win in 12 innings. He held the Rays to just three hits and two walks, while striking out six on 65 pitches. Nuno isn't a hard-thrower -- according to BrooksBaseball.net, he averaged his fastball at 90 mph, and topped out at 91.8 -- but he mixes his pitcher very well and keeps hitters off balance.
I think that after that start yesterday, Joe Girardi will give him at least one more start, and then probably play it off from there until Nuno slips up.
Although, if you want to go a different route, Girardi could always move either David Phelps or Adam Warren back into the rotation. Personally, I would move Phelps over Warren because he has more experience starting, plus Warren has seemed to settle in very nicely in the late-inning role as a reliever, and Girardi might not want to lose that arm in his bullpen, even with David Robertson expected to be activated off the DL Tuesday.