The Pittsburgh Pirates made veteran right-hander Ivan Nova their Opening Day starter and looked to him to anchor the rotation this season. He’s fallen a little short of that.
Nova, scheduled to start Friday in the second game of a four-game series against the San Diego Padres at PNC Park, is 2-3 with a 5.01 ERA, and he’s been far from consistent.
After allowing one run in each of two starts in April, Nova has allowed 14 earned runs over his past three starts and hasn’t won since April 15.
His last time out, Nova halted a stretch of two games in a row where he gave up five runs without completing five innings. He gave up four runs and eight hits, with two strikeouts and no walks, in 5 2/3 innings Sunday in a 5-0 Pittsburgh loss to San Francisco.
“I feel like I pitched better than what the line shows,” Nova said. “I don’t feel like I had my best stuff, either. I was grinding out there, competing.”
Still, it might have been a sign that he’s headed in the right direction.
“I feel like (it) was a good step forward,” Nova said. “Hopefully, next time will be better.”
Nova is 1-1 with a 2.31 ERA in four career starts against San Diego, including 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in two starts last year.
Pittsburgh (26-17) has won eight of its past nine after taking the first game of the four-game series 5-4 on Thursday. The Padres (17-28) had won three of four.
The Pirates announced their intention to recall outfielder Austin Meadows from Triple-A Indianapolis Friday, a first-round draft pick from five years ago who has had injury setbacks and is looking for his major league debut.
That could be related to center fielder Starling Marte‘s strained right oblique, which has kept him out of the past two games and could land him on the disabled list.
For the Padres on Friday, right-hander Tyson Ross (2-3, 3.40 ERA) looks to continue a career comeback that has been a bright spot for the club.
He is scheduled to make his ninth start, a success story in and of itself, but he’s been a rock among the Padres starters.
San Diego took a chance and signed him to a minor league deal in December after he struggled with Texas in 2017 in coming off thoracic outlet surgery.
“This is the best I’ve been in recent memory,” Ross said recently. “Giving (the team) a chance to win has been the most important thing.”
He has struck out 53 in 47 2/3 innings.
Most recently, he gave up one run, struck out seven and walked two in six innings Saturday but got a no-decision in the Padres’ 2-1, extra inning win against St. Louis.
His cut fastball has been his keystone.
“That definitely has been a big pitch for me this year,” he said. “I’ve had some good success with it.”
Ross is 1-2 with a 3.29 ERA in five career starts against Pittsburgh.