Ivan Nova went from a Yankees trade deadline afterthought to a near ace for the Pirates in August and September. After starting 2016 in the bullpen for New York, the right-hander returned to the rotation in May and recorded a 4.86 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 91 innings. Upon his arrival in Pittsburgh, Nova was expected to eat innings and little else. He promptly went out and won seven of 11 starts, going 7-3, on a team sinking in the standings. He registered a 3.06 ERA and compiled an astonishing 52:3 K:BB in 64.2 innings. PNC Park's spacious outfield compares favorably to the Yankees' bandbox, and his improved control after the trade to a club widely known for fixing pitcher woes fueled a significant portion of his improvement. Nova re-signed with the Pirates in December, agreeing to a three-year deal that will allow him to remain in a pitcher-friendly environment as a fixture in the Pittsburgh rotation.
Nova gave up one run in four innings against Minnesota on Monday, allowing three hits and no walks while striking out six. He was touched up for a Miguel Sano homer but otherwise threw well. Nova is slated to start Pittsburgh's home opener against the Braves in the fourth game of the season. He's compiled a 1.29 ERA in 14 spring innings, including an impressive 13:1 K:BB.
Nova allowed one run in five innings Thursday, striking out five while giving up four hits and no walks, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. He's yielded just one run in 10 innings over three starts. "It was a snapshot of what we saw the last couple months of the season," manager Clint Hurdle said. "Efficient would be the operative word." Nova will be looking to build on a strong performance for Pittsburgh following his trade from the Yankees last year; so far he's off to a good start. He's expected to start the team's home opener April 7 against the Braves.
Nova retired all six batters he faced in his first spring action Tuesday. Nova, who could pitch for the Dominican Republic in the second round of the World Baseball Classic in March, is set to start Pittsburgh's home opener four games into the season. Nova probably won't match the stunning 52:3 K:BB in 64.2 innings he compiled after coming over to the Bucs last summer, but he figures to see a continuing uptick in peripherals now that he's out of Yankee Stadium and the AL East.
Nova signed a three-year, $26 million deal with the Pirates on Thursday, Robert Murray of FanRagSports reports. Nova was shipped from New York to Pittsburgh in a mid-season deal, and the move did wonders for the right-hander from a numbers perspective. The 29-year-old owned a 4.90 ERA over 15 starts with the Yankees, but across 11 starts with his new team, that mark was just 3.06. Nova also allowed less baserunners in Pittsburgh, as his WHIP following the move was 1.10, compared to a 1.36 mark posted before being dealt. The Dominican native will parlay that success, along with a 5-2 record, into a three-year contract.
Nova (5-2) allowed six runs (three earned) on eight hits, struck out two and walked none over four innings in a loss to the Nationals on Saturday. The right-hander continued to showcase incredible control, as he has now walked just three batters in 59.1 inning since getting dealt to Pittsburgh, but he allowed three early runs Saturday and then Washington pushed across three more unearned runs in the fourth. After not allowing more than two runs in five straight starts, Nova has yielded at least three earned runs in back-to-back outings. Overall, he is 12-8 with a 4.42 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 122 strikeouts in 156.2 innings.