The Pirates have to be somewhat underwhelmed with Iván Nova, who re-signed with them in free agency a couple years ago to lead their starting rotation. Perhaps they’d feel differently if he faced the Marlins on a more consistent basis. On Saturday, Nova silenced them for six innings as Pittsburgh cruised to a 5-1 win.
- Wei-Yin Chen: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (86 pitches)
- Iván Nova: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K (90 pitches)
Nova racked up nine strikeouts, tying a season high. He had nine in a previous meeting with the Fish on April 15. Also, the right-hander picked up his only complete-game shutout as a Pirate on April 29, 2017, courtesy of you know who.
Wei-Yin Chen flirted with big trouble early. Facing the weak bottom half of the Pirates lineup in the second, he allowed three straight opponents to reach base. Rookie shortstop Kevin Newman made it 1-0 with his RBI single. Backup catcher Jacob Stallings worked a full count, one errant pitch away from loading the bases with nobody out.
However, the veteran left-hander started a much-needed double play on a grounder back to him. He then retired Nova to escape further damage.
Chen never did settle in, though. He labored in the fourth inning and the deficit swelled to 3-0 on a two-out single.
Home plate umpire Jerry Layne had a generous strike zone for much of the afternoon. Chen couldn’t take advantage. He got ahead 0-1 on just seven of 18 Pirates batters (38.9 percent), far below his season average of 64.1 percent.
Center fielder Lewis Brinson had been the Marlins’ best player in early September games, but this performance was very forgettable. He committed errors in both the fourth and seventh innings that allowed opponents to take an extra base. Brinson 1.227 OPS for the month took a big dip with an 0-for-4 at the plate.
Don Mattingly used both of his Rule 5 draft picks—Brett Graves and Elieser Hernandez—in relief, which should tell you all you need to know about the final score. The Marlins are 0-5 this season when Graves and Hernandez appear in the same game.
At least they weren’t held scoreless!
Sunday’s series finale is a matchup of Jeff Brigham and former Miami prospect Trevor Williams. The peripherals aren’t all that flashy, but Williams is on a crazy streak of run prevention: four total earned runs surrendered in his past nine starts (0.66 ERA).
Weather permitting (there’s more rain in the forecast), first pitch will be approximately 1:35 p.m.