As we count down to Opening Day, Wallace Matthews and Andrew Marchand will answer 14 for '14 -- the top 14 questions facing the 2014 New York Yankees. The series will run until the eve of the first pitch between the Yankees and the Astros on Tuesday, April 1, and will end with both Matthews and Marchand making their predictions for the season.
Question: Will Ivan Nova put together a full season in 2014?
Andrew Marchand: Nova started 2013 with a 2-1 record, a 5.16 ERA and a ticket to Triple-A by the end of May. He returned toward the end of June, went 7-5 with a 2.70 ERA and clearly was the Yankees' best starter.
It is an annual rite of summer that Nova ends up in Scranton for a Triple-A tune-up, so does anyone think 2014 will be different? I do.
I think this will be the season Nova puts together a full year. Why? There aren't great tangible reasons. He is 27 and showed he could be pretty dominant for a three-month period. Now, he must do that for three more months. My gut says he will.
It is funny to think Nova may be the surest thing in the Yankees' starting rotation. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda struggled in 2013. Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda have never thrown a pitch in a real game for the Yankees. That leaves Nova as a guy the Yankees must count on. I think he'll deliver with a 17-9 record and 3.02 ERA.
Wallace Matthews I trust Andrew's gut, but I'm not so sure I trust Nova. He has great stuff, but as Andrew points out, Nova is 27 and has been around long enough to know the score, which is why I found it a little perturbing earlier this spring when Nova said he has just come to understand he needs to focus more on the mound.
My gut tells me Nova will pretty much be the same Nova he has always been: extremely talented and capable of throwing some great games. And occasionally maddening and capable of going into a funk within a game or within a season. I'll go 16-14 with an ERA closer to 4.