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Nova's health key to solidifying Yankees rotation

The right-hander will look to build off last season's strong second half
03/01/2014 10:41 AM ET
By Doug Williams
Background: Ivan Nova is a 27-year old starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. He's been in the big leagues since 2010 and has a career ERA of 4.04. His best season came in 2011, when he went 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 165 innings pitched. Nova relies heavily on a sinking fastball that sits in the low to mid 90's in velocity.

2013 Season: Nova missed some time last year with a triceps injury and had an abbreviated season. He went 9-6 with a 3.10 ERA in 139 1/3 innings. Nova pitched exceptionally in the second half of the season, posting a 2.78 ERA, and he'll look to carry that over to this season.

Greatest Strength: Nova's strength is his stuff -- plain and simple. Sometimes his body language on the mound isn't great and he tends to be overconfident in post-game interviews after tough starts -- but the stuff itself is far above average. He wins games (is 38-20 in his career so far) and can go through dominant stretches when he's nearly unhittable.

Greatest Weakness: Nova's weakness is the fact that he's never thrown 200 innings. He came close in 2012 but only got to 170, and last season he only managed 139. If Nova is going to be a staple in the Yankees rotation for years to come, he's going to need added durability.

Prediction: It's a big year for Nova, who is hoping his hot second half from last season carries over. While he may be the Yankees No. 4 starter at the beginning of the season, he has the potential to be a top-of-the-rotation guy. We've seen that guy in the past, but only briefly.

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