Although Ivan Nova is coming off a lackluster rehab outing, Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes it's time to bring him back to the Bronx.
Nova, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in April 2014, will start Wednesday afternoon against Cole Hamels and the Phillies at Yankee Stadium.
Nova, who hasn't pitched in a major-league game since April 19, 2014, allowed five runs in five innings in last Friday's rehab start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, giving up seven hits and two walks, striking out four and hitting a batter. Only 49 of his 84 pitches were strikes.
That wasn't exactly encouraging, but minor-league rehab numbers aren't something that had a major influence on the decision to bring the 28-year- old righthander back into the rotation.
"I don't think you can make too much of what a major- league pitcher or hitter is doing in a minor-league situation because it's just different," Girardi said before Monday night's series opener against the Phillies. "We just feel he's ready to go."
Nova acknowledged the disappointing nature of the rehab start, but he also doesn't believe the numbers were anything more than a minor blip on the overall radar to recovery.
"I didn't pitch good," he said. "That's not any excuse. It was the only bad one through the whole process. It was the only one I pitched like [that]. Even in the major leagues, you're going to have times when you don't pitch good."
For now, the injection of Nova into the starting rotation will not bump anyone out of it. The Yankees are expected to go with a six-man unit for a while, and Girardi said Adam Warren will make his scheduled start Thursday in Houston.
Warren is 5-4 with a 3.62 ERA in 13 starts this season. His status, and with it that of the six-man rotation after the July 1 game in Anaheim, is undecided. The Yankees are in the middle of a 20-games-in-20-days stretch.
"We just feel that it's probably important that we inject this sixth starter in, and that's why we're going to do it," Girardi said. "It could mean a lot. We know what [Nova's] capable of doing. He's really rested, in a sense. So it could mean a lot for our rotation."
For Nova, Wednesday will mean the culmination of a long rehab process.
"It's the moment that we have been waiting for," he said. " . . . I'm happy to be back."