Has Ivan Nova experienced post-Tommy John surgery syndrome? He says no, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild believes he has.

It's a much tamer version of Matt Harvey (and his agent) versus the Mets over innings pitched. In Nova's case, there is no innings limit. This is more about opinions regarding Nova's performance and the reasons for it.

Nova had his surgery in April 2014. He returned three months ago and pitched well in his first two starts but then became inconsistent. He is 5-7 with a 4.50 ERA heading into Sunday's start against the Rays.

Nova improved in his last outing, allowing three earned runs in six innings against the Red Sox in a 4-3 loss. That was vast improvement over his seven-run, four-inning outing against Houston on Aug. 25.

"I think he's gone through the normal process of coming back from the arm injury, the ups and downs,'' Rothschild said. "His last start was better. So hopefully he just picks up from there.''

Rothschild thinks Nova may have been fatigued from the rigors associated with coming back from the surgery. "Not only do they go through the starts in the minor leagues, but they've been working basically on the rehab process for a full year,' he said. "So there's no break.''

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Nova simply thinks he pitched poorly. "Whatever they think, whatever they feel,'' he said. "Obviously, [Rothschild] has a long time in baseball; he maybe has his reason to say that. You look at the velocity, it's there. You look at the body strength, it's there. Lot of positive things. Every time you go out there, you try and attack the hitter and throw strikes. Unfortunately, not every time you're going to have your 'A' game. Hopefully [Sunday] will be a good day for me and the team.''

Ellsbury slumping

Jacoby Ellsbury left Friday night's game after four innings because of an upset stomach, and Joe Girardi held him out of the starting lineup Saturday. He appeared as a pinch hitter in the seventh and struck out, then stayed in to play centerfield and finished 0-for-2. That means he has nothing to show for his last 16 at-bats, leaving him at .269.

"He's due to get hot," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. He's too good of a hitter to go through that, so he'll come out of it."

Pazos' big day

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James Pazos said he had dreamed about this day "for a long time." The 24-year-old lefty reliever made his major-league debut, facing Joey Butler and Daniel Nava in the ninth and retiring both.

"It's just an incredible day," Pazos said. "I'm just honored to be here. It's always good when things go well. And in a place like that in your debut, it's awesome to be doing well, too, throwing strikes."