Ivan Nova, Pirates Look to Bounce Back


Tonight is a critical game for the Pittsburgh Pirates

A week ago today, the Pittsburgh Pirates were on a roll. They had a 51-50 record, were 2 games out of first place in the National League Central, and appeared to be charging toward first place. Since then, however, the team has struggled.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are 1-5 in their last six games. Three of these five losses have come against the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres who are a combined 35 games under .500. This has caused the Bucs to slip to 52-55 on the season, 4.5 games out of first place in the National League Central.

This has put the Pittsburgh Pirates in a near must win situation the next two days. Right now, the Pirates can not afford to lose back-to-back series to sub-.500 teams. However, that is exactly what will happen if they are not victorious tonight and then again tomorrow afternoon.

In tonight’s 8:40 PM game Ivan Nova will start for the Pirates. Nova, like the team as a whole, is also looking to get back on track. After being named the National League Pitcher of the Month for the month of April, Nova has been awful.

Ivan Nova has made 15 starts since the start of May. He has allowed 110 hits, 16 home runs (1.51 HR/9), a 33.0 percent hard contact rate, and is averaging only 5.27 K/9 in 95 2/3 innings pitched in those 15 starts. This comes out to Nova owning a 4.42 ERA, 4.78 FIP, and a -0.6 fWAR during this stretch.

With his struggles, Ivan Nova has become the Pirates’ least reliable starting pitcher. Overall this season Nova owns a 4.24 FIP. This gives Nova the highest FIP of any pitcher in the Pirates’ starting rotation. For those who do not know, FIP evaluates pitchers by using plate appearance outcomes they control (walks, strikeouts, home runs, and hit by pitch). This makes FIP a much better stat to use when evaluating pitchers than ERA.

The fact Ivan Nova is once again pitching like the pitcher he was for seven years in New York before being traded to the Pirates is concerning. Especially since the Pirates have Nova under contract through the 2019 season. Hopefully, Nova can start to turn it around and get back to at least being a league average pitcher again starting tonight.

Next: A Scouting Report on Jordan Luplow

The Pittsburgh Pirates currently have their backs against the wall. With the non-waiver trade deadline 48 hours away, the Pirates are 4.5 games out of first place in the National League Central. Facing the lowly Padres, these next two games are ones the Bucs must win. Then, if they are going to remain in contention, Neal Huntington needs to help the team via the trade market.