The Pirates Need A Big Start From Ivan Nova Today

Aug 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) takes a drink in the dugout before heading to the mound to pitch the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at PNC Park. The Pirates won 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) takes a drink in the dugout before heading to the mound to pitch the ninth inning against the Houston Astros at PNC Park. The Pirates won 7-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Today, the Pittsburgh Pirates will go for a four game series sweep in Milwaukee. If this is going to happen they need a strong start from Ivan Nova.

Some times miracles happen in sports. We are currently witnessing a sports miracle. This is because the Pittsburgh Pirates have won the first three games of their four game series in Milwaukee.

While this may not sound like much, take a look at the Pirates’ track record at Miller Park. Before this series the Pirates had lost nine straight games at Miller Park, and 64 of their last 81. Despite all of this, the Pirates have taken the first three games of their four game weekend series in Milwaukee.

On Sunday afternoon the Pirates will hand the ball to right-handed starting pitcher Ivan Nova. When the Bucs do this, they will be looking for a series sweep. So far Ivan Nova has made four start for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Pirates are 4-0 in his starts.

The Pittsburgh Pirates enter Sunday’s game tied with the Miami Marlins in the National League Wild Card standings. They are a game ahead of the New York Mets, and one and a half games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. Currently, the Cardinals occupy the National League’s second and final Wild Card spot.

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In baseball, starting pitching is always vital to a team being victorious. That will very much so be the case for the Pirates this afternoon. Due to this, the Pirates need a strong start from Ivan Nova on Sunday.

Through his first four Pirate starts Ivan Nova has been excellent. In these four starts Nova has pitched 25 1/3 innings. And Nova has pitched, at least, into the sixth inning in three of his four starts.

In these 25 1/3 innings pitched Ivan Nova is averaging 6.39 K/9, 0.39 BB/9, 0.71 HR/9, and he has a WHIP of 1.11. This has resulted in Nova posting a 3.20 ERA, 2.87 FIP, and a 3.24 xFIP through his first four Pirate starts. Quickly, Ivan Nova is becoming Ray Searage‘s latest success story.

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Ivan Nova’s best start yet as a Pirate came in his most recent outing. Against the Houston Astros on Tuesday night Nova threw his first complete game since 2013. In this start Nova allowed one run on six hits, one walk, and six strikeouts. In fact, Nova kept the Astros off the board until there was one out in the top of the ninth inning.

Aug 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 23, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Ivan Nova (46) delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

For a lot of reasons, the Pirates need a strong start out of Ivan Nova today. The Pirates are going for a four game series sweep today, the Bucs are in the thick of a postseason race, and the Pirates do not have an off day again until Thursday. However, the biggest reason the Pirates need a strong start out of Ivan Nova is the bullpen situation.

In Saturday night’s victory Jeff Locke pitched two innings and Juan Nicasio pitched three. As a result, neither pitcher will be available on Sunday afternoon. Furthermore, they may not be the only relief pitchers unavailable on Sunday. Neftali Feliz has pitched each of the last two days, and Tony Watson has pitched two of the last three. For these reasons, it is possible that both Feliz and Watson will be unavailable on Sunday.

So, basically, on Sunday afternoon the Pirate bullpen will be short handed. For this reason, the Pirates need Ivan Nova to give them length. Luckily for the Pirates, Nova has done just this is three of his four Pirate starts.

Ever since the Pittsburgh Pirates acquired Ivan Nova from the New York Yankees on August first he has been one of the Pirates’ best starting pitchers. In fact, Nova has been one of the National League’s best starting pitchers in the month of August. The Pirates need another strong start out of Ivan Nova on Sunday afternoon, and I am confident they will get it. Go sweep the Brewers, boys.