Phillies: Ivan Nova has ugly start to 2021 spring training

Ivan Nova #47 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Ivan Nova #47 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) /

The first start for minor-league invitee Ivan Nova in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform did not go as he probably hoped it would. That is an understatement.

The veteran right-hander got the nod in the spring training opener against the Detroit Tigers Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, he lasted just 1/3 of an inning while tossing 27 pitches — allowing three hits and five earned runs. Nova even walked in a run before he was taken out of the game.

Ivan Nova significantly hurt his chances to make the Phillies roster.

Nova is competing for one of the last two spots in the Phillies rotation. While the ex-Tigers and Yankees pitcher under Joe Girardi has been a serviceable pitcher in the past, he can implode on any given day if his command is poor. That was what happened on Sunday against one of his former teams.

It’s just one game, but an outing like this really hurts Nova’s chances to make the rotation. Even though it’s the first game of the spring training, it’s difficult to excuse Nova’s performance. Maybe he can transition to the bullpen at this point in his career, but the fact that he couldn’t even get through the first inning is alarming.

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The door is now wide open for Chase Anderson, Matt Moore, and Vince Velasquez. Nova isn’t completely out of the running, but this puts him at a big disadvantage out of the gate.

Anderson had a rough 2020 season, but if he can return to his 2014-2019 form, he should be fine as a fifth starter. Moore will look to revive his career at 31 and slot in as one of the few lefties to start in the Phillies rotation in recent years. Velasquez, meanwhile, seeks to bounce back once again in what might be his last chance in red pinstripes.

The race for the last spot in the rotation has begun. It’s an odd start with Nova’s debut, but it’s a start nonetheless. Hopefully, this isn’t foreshadowing what the competition might look like this spring.

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