Ivan Nova Wins Pitcher of the Month

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

News: Ivan Nova wins Pitcher of the Month award for second time in his career, first with Pirates:

Ivan Nova was recognized for his stellar start to the season today when he was named National League Pitcher of the Month for April. He is the first Pirate to win the award since Gerrit Cole won it two years ago for April 2015. It is also the second time that Nova personally had won a Pitcher of the Month award. He won the American League award in August 2013 when he was a member of the New York Yankees. Nova has been an ace for the Pirates since coming over in a trade from the Yankees in August. The mind-boggling stat that summarizes his performance for the Pirates since then is that he has more complete games (5) than walks (4) in this period.

In the month of April (and for the whole season up to now) Nova has pitched 36 innings over 5 starts. Over that time he has posted a 1.50 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP. He has only walked one batter on the season, given up 2 Home Runs, and 6 earned runs. Though wins are a useless statistic for evaluating pitchers, it is still unfortunate that Nova has only a 3-2 record in his 5 starts. Perhaps it’s encouraging that the voters for the award ostensibly ignored this archaic statistic and mostly useless statistic.

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Ace of Aces

Nova’s 2 losses say more about the lack of offense that the Pirates have had at times this season. Both losses were quality starts, that is at least 6 innings pitched and no more than 3 earned runs surrendered. In fact, all 5 of Nova’s starts in April were quality starts. The gem of Nova’s starts this season, however, has to his most recent.

Last Saturday against the Miami Marlins Ivan Nova achieved a relatively rare feat, which has come to be known in recent years as a Maddux. The requirements for a Maddux (named after Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux of course) are a complete game shutout thrown in less than 100 pitches. For reference of how hard it is to achieve this feat, Greg Maddux himself only had 13 in his career. On Saturday, Nova went 9 innings, giving up three hits in the process but no runs. He did it all in 95 pitches. The Pirates batters also helped out with four runs to get him the complete game win.

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Moving Forward

Ivan Nova has undoubtedly had something of a career resurgence with the Pirates. It was apparent at the end of last season and it has carried over so far into 2017. While his fantastic ERA and WHIP figures are unsustainable over the whole season, his 2.67 FIP is still indicative of a top-end starter. Given the uncertainty in the lineup, having excellent starting pitching is a necessity for the Pirates right now. So far Nova has proven to be the ace of aces for the Pirates top 3 starters (Nova, Jameson Taillon, and Gerrit Cole). In the process, he’s made the front office look shrewd for signing him over the offseason.

Nova makes his first May start on Thursday afternoon at 12:35 p.m. at the Cincinnati Reds

*Stats courtesy of FanGraphs