Pittsburgh Pirates Should Re-sign Ivan Nova

Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Pirates seem to always pick up a player at the trade deadline who performs well.  Usually, at the time of the move, fans are not impressed with the move, but time and time again the move proves to be impressive.

Last year, the Pirates had two success stories in reliever Joe Blanton and left-handed starter J.A. Happ. Ivan Nova seems to be the Pittsburgh Pirates latest deadline transaction that works out.  Nova was struggling with the Yankees this season, and he seemed destine to be sent packing, being that he was a free agent at the end of the year.  The big right-handed pitcher really struggled with keeping the ball in the stadium this year in New York, a place where it is not easy to pitch and allow few home runs. This has been evident in Pittsburgh so far. He has given up two homers in his first three starts with the Pirates. He also has given up quite a few deep flies, but the ball parks have contained them.  In Yankee stadium those balls were home runs.

However, the Pittsburgh Pirates brass knew this. They knew that he was a victim of the amount of hitter friendly ball parks in the American League East. Not to mention the American League East has a lot of power hitters in those hitter ball parks. The Blue Jays, Orioles, and Rays all rank in the top 10 in home runs this year.  With that, 19 of the home runs he gave up as a Yankee this year, 14 of them were in American League East ballparks. This includes nine in eight starts at Yankee Stadium.

With that, he has given up two deep balls in three stats as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, both home runs were given up in his Pirate debut and he contained the Reds to only three runs across seven innings in the game. His last two starts he has not given up any home runs, even with a tough start against the Giants.

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Nova has actually been very good as a Pittsburgh Pirate so far.  His record is at 2-0 and he has an earned run average of 4.40.

His ERA climbed a bit after only lasting four innings and giving up four runs against the Giants in his last start. However, His FIP is very good in the black and gold, sitting at 3.27, suggesting that he has had some bad luck runs come across. This is a positive sign, suggesting that if he continues to pitch the way he has, his earned run average will be closer to 3.5, rather than over four.  What does that all mean? He is pitching effectively and giving the Pittsburgh Pirates a chance to win in his starts.

The best thing is that Nova continues to pitch well and helps the Pittsburgh Pirates make the playoffs.

If he does not go full on J.A. Happ and pitch like an ace down the stretch, this could help the Pirates re-sign him this off-season. Happ was the best pitcher in baseball, next to Arrietta, down the stretch in 2015. This made him a hot commodity in the off-season.  If Nova continues to pitch around a 3-4 ERA for the Bucs, he will not be sought after by teams. Plus it seems that the Pirates may want to re-sign him.

Neal Huntington is going to give up two prospects for Nova at some point.  The Yankees currently have a list of players to choose from and are scouting them. They will be the Players to be Named Later. The fact that the Pirates are willing to give up two players for a player, who was getting the boot from a selling team in New York, means that the Pirates like Nova.  They will not give up two prospects and let him just walk.  If they can sign him to a short-term deal and at the right price, Nova will be back.  He will be in the back-end of the rotation next year, and will get a chance to build his value.

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As of now, the Pirates only have two pitcher that will certainly be in the rotation.  Obviously they are Gerrit Cole and Jameson Taillon. Chad Kuhl will likely be in the rotation, but if he can’t start to get lefty hitters out, he’ll likely struggle. That leaves two or three spots for the team to fill. Tyler Glasnow still has some questions, so does newly acquired Drew Hutchison. Nick Kingham will be is working back from Tommy John and has service time working against him until June. Trevor Williams and Steven Brault could fill in, but the having to many rookies could be troublesome.  For all these reasons signing Nova to a short-term deal would allow the Pirates to stabilize their rotation for at least next season.