Ivan Nova doesn't have to sweat out innings limits during this late Yankees run toward the playoffs. Unlike Matt Harvey, Nova's comeback season from Tommy John surgery didn't begin at the start.
"I just heard about it," Nova said about the Harvey hysteria over his 180-inning limit. "I don't think it's going to be the same thing with me."
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After throwing six more innings on the pile Sunday against the Rays at Yankee Stadium, he's up to 74 in 13 starts since returning June 24. That followed 152/3 innings in three official rehab starts.
Nova (6-7, 4.50) has experienced some peaks and valleys, but he has given up more than four runs in only one of those 13 starts. His latest outing was more peak than valley, as he allowed three runs, six hits and one walk in a 6-4 victory.
"I thought Nova was especially good today," said Alex Rodriguez, who hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the sixth one pitch after Brian McCann's three-run homer. "He had a rough couple of innings and then he settled down nicely and gave us an opportunity to win."
Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-out, two-run homer off Nova in the second and Logan Forsythe blooped a two-out RBI single to make it 3-0 in the third. Then Nova turned off the tap.
"Throwing strikes," he said.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Saturday that Nova has been going through the usual ups and downs of a comeback from Tommy John surgery. "He thinks the way he thinks, but me personally, I don't think that," Nova said.
Nova thinks bad games are simply bad games now. "Sometimes I think I'm too hard on myself," he said. "I was away for a year and a half. Every day you're trying to work and trying to keep your body ready, trying to repeat your delivery . . . Matt Moore, he was struggling [with the Rays] and actually went down to the minors. And I came up pitching the way I've pitched; it's not great, but it's still good."
Joe Girardi is a believer in innings limits, especially for the younger guys. The club mapped out minor-league limits for Luis Severino so neither the club nor the pitcher would have to worry about it when he reached the majors. It also seems helpful that Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka missed out on some innings because of injuries. If that hadn't happened . . .
"I might be going through this, yeah," Girardi said. "We might be going through this on this side of town."