As the trade deadline approaches, Ivan Nova has shined in his last two starts. The White Sox should act on his improving trade value before it is too late.
When the regular season first started, there were many upset Chicago White Sox fans. After missing out on the big-name free-agents like Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, it was disappointing to come away with Ervin Santana and Iván Nova instead.
Many had set the bar low for Santana and Nova, expecting them to eat some innings and just be the fourth and fifth guy to just be there and eat innings. But with Dylan Cease fast-tracking his way to majors, many knew one or both of their careers on the south side would not be very long.
Just after three miserable starts, Santana was designated for assignment. He would later get picked up by the Mets. Now all that was left to eat innings was Nova. He shined in his debut going seven innings allowing only one earned run. But things turned for the worse and quickly. Nova finished his April with an 8.42 ERA. He was able to bring it down to a 6.52 by the end of May, but it was clear Nova was just James Shields 2.0.
Averaging only about 5 innings per outing up to July 17, Nova was not quite hitting the numbers he was brought on to do. He had a 5.86 ERA and gave up more hits than innings he has pitched. But just as quickly as his start turned for the worse, he has proved himself in his last two starts.
On July 22, Nova pitched a complete game, second for the White Sox in 2019 against the Miami Marlins. He gave up one run but struck out five and did not allow a free pass. He did open the game by hitting the first hitter but got the second hitter to ground into a double play. But due to the inconsistent nature of Nova, it was hard to believe he would be able to repeat his success for a second time in a row, against the division-leading Twins nonetheless. But he did.
Nova went six strong innings. He struck out four and walked one. He did allow a run, but it was unearned. He limited the 200-home-run Twins to just two hits. Perhaps a third quality start in a row would seal the deal in getting something in return for a Nova trade, but this start against the Twins pushes his value upwards faster than a third start could.
With nine out of 21 games being quality starts, Nova has proved himself to be a solid fourth or fifth man for a contending team. The inconsistency is a question, however. He has starts that are more like his first with the team but then can have a game like his second start when he went only 2.1 innings allowing seven earned runs.
With names like Madison Bumgardner and Noah Syndergaard potentially on the market, it may be hard to get a positive return in exchange for Nova. But a third quality start in a row just before the deadline would not only help the team find a trade partner but may also give them the leverage to come out as the winner of the trade.