The Bucs will lean on the 29-year-old Nova to help their beleaguered rotation. Nova hasn’t had the best season himself, posting a 4.90 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 over 97 1/3 innings, although his struggles this year are due in part to a very high 21.3% HR/FB rate that the Pirates probably feel will improve in Pittsburgh. Nova’s 54.3% ground ball rate was likely appealing to the Bucs, as was the fact that ERA estimators like xFIP and SIERA are almost a run lower than his actual ERA.
Nova is eligible for free agency after the season, so he’ll be a rental for the Pirates. (The 52-52 Yankees likely felt there was limited downside in dealing him, given that he wasn’t pitching particularly well and was set to depart anyway.) The Bucs will have limited time to help Nova improve, but they have a reputation for helping struggling pitchers and did quite well in acquiring the previously-nondescript J.A. Happ as a rental at last year’s deadline, so perhaps they feel they can do so again.
Nova will soak up starts in a Pirates rotation that has leaned heavily on struggling veterans like Jeff Locke, Jon Niese (who was traded back to the Mets today) and Francisco Liriano (who headed to the Blue Jays). The Bucs had previously traded closer Mark Melancon to the Nationals, but their trade for Nova looks to be at least a tepid move toward improving their chances of winning a Wild Card spot this season.