Nova has solid final start, wants to stay with Bucs

September 30th, 2016

PITTSBURGH -- 's season came to an unlikely end Thursday night at PNC Park, with a 5 1/3-inning complete game in a 1-1 tie with the Cubs in the Bucs' home finale.

Was it the last start Nova, a pending free agent, will make for the Pirates?

"I'm excited, not nervous. Hopefully things work out and I can come back here. I hope that's the case. We'll see what happens," Nova said. "I've never talked to my agents about it. I think we're going to get on that conversation later on in another week or maybe after the season ends. My only focus was trying to get a win for this team."

The Pirates have reportedly opened extension talks with Nova's agent, looking to keep him in their rotation next season. But his turnaround with the Pirates -- he went 5-2 with a 3.06 ERA, 52 strikeouts and only three walks in 64 2/3 innings -- will not go unnoticed by the rest of the league as he enters free agency.

"He's shown up so very well. He's been very efficient," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's given a nice infusion of experience into the club and clubhouse. He's all business when he's on the mound. He understands the importance of the role that the starting pitcher carries. He's been a welcome addition.

"There's a lot of things we like about Ivan Nova. I know there's some interest on both sides."

Acquired from the Yankees before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Nova has offered nothing but rave reviews about the Pirates over the last two months. His comfort with the organization, ballpark, pitching coach Ray Searage, catcher and the rest of his teammates will play a role in his decision.

"I don't want to leave this clubhouse, to be honest," Nova said. "It's not up to me. I've got to talk to my agent. My agent will let me know what's going on. If there's something I can do to stay here, it's what I will do."

End of the road

The Pirates packed up their bags and left PNC Park for the final time this year after Thursday's abbreviated game. They will finish the season with three games against the Cardinals in St. Louis with the opportunity to affect the Cards' standing in the National League Wild Card race.

"We're going to play all the men that are capable of playing," Hurdle said. "Outside of that, we're going to do everything we can to go in there and win ballgames."

Outfielder , sidelined most of the month by lower back tightness, will not play in the season's final series. Shortstop (forearm strain) is also unlikely to take the field.

Veteran right-hander will start the Pirates' final game on Sunday. The Bucs previously announced that rookies and will pitch Friday and Saturday, respectively.