When reports surfaced at the trade deadline that the Yankees were shopping Ivan Nova, it was met mostly with eye rolls. After all, what contender was going to want an impending free agent starter who had put up a 4.90 ERA?
Well, the Pirates wanted him and they’re glad they have him.
Nova continued his improbable run for Pittsburgh on Tuesday with one of his best efforts since joining the club, striking out a season-high 11 batters while holding the Phillies to two runs – one earned – on just five hits and one walk. It was the fifth straight start where the veteran right-hander went at least six innings and permitted no more than two runs.
In 52 1/3 innings since arriving in Pittsburgh, Nova has posted a 2.41 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 43/3 K/BB ratio. Yes, you read that correctly. Just three walks across 52 1/3 innings of work. Nova has gone 5-0 over that stretch and the Pirates are 7-1 in his starts.
Unfortunately for the Pirates, they’re no longer really contenders, having dropped six games back of the second National League Wild Card spot with just 19 games to play. However, Nova has certainly used this late-season audition to his benefit and could now be looking at a nice free agent contract this winter.
Nova, who will turn 30 in January, seems to have meshed well with pitching coach Ray Searage, who is renowned for his ability to resuscitate the careers of veteran pitchers. For fantasy purposes, it would be nice to see the Pirates and Nova continue their partnership beyond this season. However, like most free agents Nova will probably wind up with the highest bidder. He’ll attempt to continue his terrific run on Sunday in Cincinnati.
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Report: Braun/Puig Trade Nearly Went Down
“Several executives with direct knowledge” of the trade talks told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that the two players “were about 20 minutes from being traded” for each other on August 31, but the two sides simply “ran out of time.” Nightengale says that Brandon McCarthy and prospects would’ve also headed to the Brewers in the potential deal, with the Dodgers picking up the entirety of what remains on Braun’s contract.
Nightengale adds that there was “just one last prospect being negotiated” before the deal was finalized, and Braun was even advised to stick around in the clubhouse until the deadline expired because a trade was so close. Some of his teammates apparently hung around with him in anticipation of saying their goodbyes.
While the Dodgers and Brewers were unable to complete a Braun/Puig deal on August 31, Nightengale seems to think a trade this offseason is possible, if not likely. However, he also notes that there could be other suitors for Braun this winter, with the Giants and Angels making sense as landing spots. The only teams that can acquire Braun without his consent are the Dodgers, Giants, Angels, Padres, Diamondbacks and Marlins. Braun lives on the West Coast and went to college at the University of Miami.
A Braun/Puig trade would be fascinating and makes quite a bit of sense on the surface. Braun would help balance out the Dodgers’ left-handed heavy lineup, especially with one of their big righty bats – Justin Turner – slated for free agency this offseason. Plus, the Dodgers can easily absorb his contract. Puig has struggled at the plate the last two seasons and has drawn criticism for his attitude and occasional off-the-field issue. However, he’ll turn just 26 in December, is under contract relatively cheaply through 2018 and would figure to be a good fit in Miller Park on a rebuilding team. He’s a change-of-scenery candidate if there ever was one.
deGrom, Matz to Return Sunday?
The Mets understandably are no longer interested in giving Rafael Montero a start in a playoff race. It could be a pair of familiar faces that take his next turn on Sunday versus the Twins.
Manager Terry Collins said Tuesday that it’s “very possible” both Jacob deGrom (forearm) and Steven Matz (shoulder) could return Sunday, with one of them starting the game and the other coming on next in a “piggyback” situation.
"If things are moving forward," Collins said, "then we've certainly got to take a look at it."
DeGrom played catch Tuesday, one day after throwing a 35-pitch bullpen session with moderate intensity. He appears to be a safer bet to return this weekend than Matz, who still needs to get through a bullpen session Wednesday without any hiccups. DeGrom would also seem like the better bet to start the game, although neither pitcher figures to be ready to go more than 4-5 innings.
Getting deGrom and Matz back in their rotation, even for abbreviated outings, would obviously be a boon for the Mets. If things would go well for them on Sunday, they could each have a start of their own the following weekend against the Phillies. If it turns out deGrom and Matz aren’t ready to go yet, the Mets could just skip Montero’s spot or possibly go with a collection of relievers.
National League Quick Hits: The Pirates have shut Gerrit Cole down for the season due to right elbow posterior inflammation. Cole made just 21 starts this season due to a couple arm injuries … Noah Syndergaard whiffed 10 across seven frames of one-run ball in Tuesday’s win over the Nationals … Aledmys Diaz (thumb) returned to the Cardinals’ lineup Tuesday, homering and reaching base three times … Jean Segura slugged a pair of solo homers in Tuesday’s victory over the Rockies … Dan Straily struck out eight while allowing just two runs over eight frames in Tuesday’s win over the Brewers … Starling Marte (back) missed his eighth straight start Tuesday … T.J. Rivera went 3-for-4 with a go-ahead solo homer in the 10th inning of a win over the Nationals … Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed Tuesday that Yasiel Puig has been bothered by "something behind his left shoulder" for the last couple of weeks … Joey Votto went 3-for-4 with a home run, two RBI and two runs scored in Tuesday’s win over the Brewers … Jonathan Villar hit a solo home run and stole a base in Tuesday's loss to the Reds … Julio Urias is expected to be moved to the Dodgers’ bullpen for the rest of the season following Tuesday’s start versus the Yankees … Matt Holliday (thumb) is expected to face live pitching later this week and should be activated shortly thereafter … Wilmer Flores (neck) missed a third straight start Tuesday … Brandon Moss went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run and two runs scored in Tuesday's win over the Cubs … Michael Foltynewicz (calf) said Tuesday that he hopes to miss just one turn in the Braves' rotation … Eduardo Nunez (back) missed a second straight start on Tuesday … Marcell Ozuna (knee) was back in the Marlins’ lineup Tuesday … Zack Cozart (knee) missed a third straight start Tuesday … Trevor Rosenthal (forearm, shoulder) threw a successful simulated inning Tuesday and could be activated later this week … Homer Bailey (biceps) threw a 44-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday. He’s slated for one more bullpen session before facing live pitching …
American League Quick Hits: Taijuan Walker took a perfect game into the sixth inning and a no-hitter into the seventh inning of Tuesday’s shutout of the Angels. He struck out 11, walked zero and gave up just three singles on the night … Jose Quintana whiffed six across eight innings of one-run ball on Tuesday versus the Indians … Dallas Keuchel (shoulder) is tentatively scheduled to play catch on Wednesday … Tyler Skaggs was scratched from Wednesday's start and will undergo an MRI due to left forearm tightness ... Josh Donaldson (thumb, hip) sat out a second straight game on Tuesday … Jorge Polanco went 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI in Tuesday's win over the Tigers … Miguel Sano (back) didn’t play Tuesday and is expected to miss a couple more days of action … Justin Upton (calf) was absent from the Tigers’ lineup Tuesday … CC Sabathia struck out seven over 6 1/3 scoreless frames in a no-decision versus the Dodgers Tuesday … Kyle Gibson tossed eight innings of one-run ball in a win over the Tigers on Tuesday … Jose Altuve went 3-for-4 with a home run in Tuesday’s loss to the Rangers … Seth Smith launched a grand slam in Tuesday's win over the Angels … Nick Castellanos (hand) could take at-bats in a simulated game on Wednesday … The Red Sox activated Andrew Benintendi (knee) from the disabled list on Tuesday … Aaron Judge departed Tuesday’s game against the Dodgers with a strained right oblique … A.J. Griffin struck out seven while allowing two runs over seven innings against the Astros on Tuesday … Ryon Healy went 2-for-4 with a homer in Tuesday’s win over the Royals … A CT scan on Andrelton Simmons’ right hand came back clean, but he missed a second straight start Tuesday … Danny Valencia reportedly will remain with the A’s through the end of the season. There was a previous report suggesting that he was likely to be released … Trevor May has been shut down for the remainder of the season after experiencing a setback with his nagging back injury. The Twins are expected to give May another shot to start next season … Yulieski Gurriel’s younger brother, Lourdes, will hold a showcase for teams on Wednesday in Panama. He’s not expected to sign until October, when he’ll become exempt from MLB's international bonus pools …