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Monday, December 5, 2022

Ivan Nova Throws a Maddux in 4-0 Win Over the Marlins

MIAMI – From August 14th, 2013 to July 27th, 2016, the Pittsburgh Pirates combined for five complete games. The pitchers involved in those complete games were Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez, Vance Worley, Jeff Locke, and Gerrit Cole.

From August 23rd, 2016 through tonight, the Pittsburgh Pirates combined for five complete games. The pitchers involved in those complete games were Ivan Nova, Ivan Nova, Ivan Nova, Ivan Nova, and Ivan Nova.

Granted, one of those complete games was a rain shortened outing against the Cubs that lasted 5.1 innings. Another was an eight inning complete game. But to have three other complete games in three months of pitching with the Pirates can only be described in one way.

“It’s pretty special,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said about Nova’s track record.

Tonight, Nova took it to a new level, throwing a Maddux. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, and perhaps that is because the last Pirates Maddux came on July 15, 2011, a “Maddux” is when a pitcher throws a complete game shutout on less than 100 pitches. Nova needed only 95 for a complete game shutout in a 4-0 win over the Marlins. He has easily been the best pitcher for the Pirates this year, but tonight he was taking things to a new level.

“He has a four pitch mix, but first of all the two seamer is just playing big,” Hurdle said on what was working for Nova. “He’s throwing that two-seamer back over the plate to right-handers. He’s getting ground balls. He uses the four-seamer sometimes in enough to stand people up, and then the combination of the changeup and curveball — he gets the curveball rolling, it’s got a finish like a bowling ball. Again, no walks. Seven punch outs. First pitch strikes gets him on the mark quick. He’s been a pro.”

Hurdle noted that Nova got 13 guys out on three pitches or less, and only had three at-bats where he got to a three ball count.

“It’s a perfect recipe for somebody to go up there and pitch really, really well,” Hurdle said.

Nova felt that all of his stuff was working tonight, but that the curveballs and changeups he threw were working especially well.

“The changeup was outstanding today,” Nova said. “Two-seamer worked really well. But I really was on top of my changeup and the curveball. It was two good pitches.”

There were very few times when he ran into a jam or needed help from his defense. But when he needed it, he got that help, with two highlights from Josh Harrison. The first was a diving play on a bunt popped down the third base line, with Harrison getting under it with a dive to make the catch. The second big play saw Harrison dive to his left to start a 5-4-3 double play, completed with a good turn by Gift Ngoepe.

“Unbelievable,” Nova said. “That was amazing. It’s why I got to be a number one today. And the bunt play, where he dove for the ball, that’s the type of players we have on this team.”

Tonight’s Maddux just continues an amazing run of pitching that started when Nova joined the Pirates last August. He has stepped up to be one of the best starters on the staff, and with Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole pitching well, the Pirates have a solid front three for their rotation.

Offense Without Swinging the Bat

The Pirates got on the board in the second inning when Jordy Mercer hit a two-out single to score Gregory Polanco from second. But it was their two run inning in the sixth that was so huge, especially considering how it went down.

Dan Straily only issued three walks on the night, but all of them came in that sixth inning. After giving up a single to Josh Bell, Straily walked the next three batters, including Francisco Cervelli with the bases loaded to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. Straily started out with an 0-2 count, then followed up with four straight balls to walk in the run and finish his night. It was the second straight at-bat where Straily started out 0-2, then walked a batter, after doing the same thing to Gregory Polanco right before Cervelli.

“I slowed things down and I was looking for one pitch and he didn’t throw it,” Cervelli said. “Thank god I didn’t swing.”

“Those two at-bats were as big as anything we did all night,” Hurdle said. “0-2 counts right out of the chute, and they both work six pitch walks to get in two runs.”

Brad Ziegler came on in relief to face John Jaso, and issued another walk, this time after starting 1-2 in the count. That put the Pirates up 3-0. Jaso later added a fourth run with a solo home run in the ninth inning, his first of the year.

Game Notes

**Nova’s shutout was the first shutout by a Pirates starter since Jeff Locke on May 30th, 2016. That also came in Miami.

**Hurdle got Felipe Rivero up in the eighth inning after a single allowed by Nova, “just because it can happen in a hurry”, according to Hurdle. But Nova had a long leash.

“We were going to give him rope to pitch the game,” Hurdle said. “We had a pitch count for him that he never got to, he didn’t get near.”

**Hurdle praised Josh Harrison’s defense at third base, noting that this wasn’t new: “He’s a good defender. We’ve seen him good before. I’ve always liked him at third. Second was a good position for him, but he caught everybody’s attention in that super U position.”

**Francisco Cervelli was limping around on a few plays, including a ground out to second base, but said after the game that it wasn’t bad enough to leave the game. “If I’m not bleeding, I’m not going out,” Cervelli said. “You’ve got to keep playing.”

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.


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Joe Nastasi

And Nova throws a Maddox by actually throwing the ball in the strike zone, unlike Maddox who hit the mitt at unbelievable clip. Only problem the mitt was setup a foot outside & got called strikes all game.

Scott Kliesen

I think your getting Maddux confused w Glavine.

Maddux was a master at throwing strikes that looked like balls and vice versa.

Joe Nastasi

They were one in the same, Livan Hernandez was another one. The umps made a mockery of the game back then. There’s still a couple of umps that do it but there not real consistent. Just bad.


Joe: Did you wonder how Maddox could not get a called strike with the Cubs, but was able to get the expanded zone in Atlanta?

Joe Nastasi

You don’t have to wonder to long


Nova, in this new day and age where the ‘box; hold umps accountable, has been more impressive, in this small sample size….

Joe Nastasi

Couldn’t agree more


Sort of makes you want to forget about those two players that we traded for Mr. Nova. Who were those guys anyway?

Scott Kliesen

Who could’ve predicted 5 years ago the Pirates would return to relevance largely due to using the Yankees as their farm system?


Have to think Cashman isn’t going to answer when he sees NH on his caller ID.

Bill W

Can’t remember was Damaso Marte involved in that supply chain?


Excellent point because if we did not get Nova to the Pirates to bond with Searage, Cervelli, Stewart, and fellow players from the DR like Marte and Polanco, I doubt we would have had a chance to get him in Free Agency.

Bill W



I think, for once, (just kidding) is a very good point, not so sure we have him in 2017 without the 2016 trade, echoing your point 🙂

Bill W


Scott K

Nova may not be the best Pitcher on the team, but he’s pitching like the best Pitcher in the league.

I’ll put Cole, Taillon, and Nova up against any other team’s top 3 and feel pretty good about my chances.


I love it when Nova pitches. The games are fast, and the Bucs always have a chance to win.


Yuppers, such a pleasure to watch him pitch, so composed and his pace is seemingly tough on the oppositions hitters and probably appreciated by the defense behind him (the ole keeping them on their toes reference or whatever it is called), that is conjecture on my part, just my opinion….

mitch t

So anyone ready to complement brass for the best FA signing of the off-season?

Scott K

This guy is!


He is, and his 7+ IP average per start so far in 2017 has helped the bullpen tremendously. I think the entire BP and the BP Catchers were in the front row of the Clevelander last night cheering Nova.

mitch t

OBTW Adam Eaton is out of the season with an ACL. Thanks to all that’s holy the Nats didn’t send that package to us for Cutch. We dodge bullet… they take one to the head.


What bullets were dodged? Are you saying we were getting eaton for cutch from the nats when he was employed by the white sox? Or are you saying if you are the white sox you are overcome with guilt cuz you got that package for a player that got injured?

Bill Harvey

I think what he is saying is, we dodged a bullet by not trading Cutch, and we absolutely need him right now. The Nats, on the other hand gave up a ton for about 20 games of Eaton this year. I think maybe we need to give kudo’s to the GM on both counts.

mitch t

Oh, and Jose Quintana is 1-4 wth a 5.22 ERA so far… I’d rather keep Bell and Meadows and Glasnow and who know’s else they were asking for ….

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