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Nova's promising year ends with finger injury

MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- Making his career-high 31st and final start of the season Thursday night, Ivan Nova reported to Nationals Park and prepared to put a disappointing second half behind him with a solid outing to finish the year.

It lasted two innings and ended with a bunt attempt.

Full Game Coverage

WASHINGTON -- Making his career-high 31st and final start of the season Thursday night, Ivan Nova reported to Nationals Park and prepared to put a disappointing second half behind him with a solid outing to finish the year.

It lasted two innings and ended with a bunt attempt.

Full Game Coverage

Nova took a pitch from Edwin Jackson off his right index finger while trying to bunt in the third inning and left the game, which the Pirates went on to lose, 5-4. X-rays were negative, manager Clint Hurdle said, and Nova said he will be reexamined in Pittsburgh after the Pirates' season ends Sunday.

Video: PIT@WSH: Nova on hand injury, leaving the game early

"Disappointed, man," Nova said. "It's not the way you want to finish the season."

That brought an end to a mixed bag of a season for Nova, whose outstanding first half preceded a second-half slump and a slight September bounceback. Overall, he finished 11-14 with a 4.14 ERA in a career-high 187 innings.

Nova was the Pirates' best starter for 3 1/2 months, rewarding their faith in him -- and the three-year, $26 million contract he signed in December -- by winning National League Pitcher of the Month honors in April and posting a 3.21 ERA in 120 2/3 innings over 18 starts before the All-Star break.

In the second half, Nova recorded a 5.83 ERA. He allowed only four earned runs in 13 1/3 innings over his final three starts, however, and believes he can carry that momentum -- along with the lessons he learned during his brutal slump -- into next season.

Video: PIT@WSH: Hurdle on Glasnow's outing, Nova's season

"I think we've got a much better look," Hurdle said. "Learned a lot about him. Steadfast. Shows up. Works hard. Loves to compete. I think he learned some valuable lessons about himself and what it's going to take. ... Look forward to having him back, for sure."

Nova is 30 years old, a veteran of eight Major League seasons. But this was the first year he started more than 28 games while spending the entire season as a starter. In other words, he had never gone wire-to-wire like he did for the Pirates.

"Now I know what it's going to take to go through all that," Nova said. "Record-wise, it wasn't what you expected, but it was fun to be able to take the ball every five days for the team. Just to be with them the whole season, it was really fun."

Video: PIT@WSH: Glasnow picks up the second K of his outing

Nova's early exit gave the Pirates a chance to use rookie Tyler Glasnow out of the bullpen. Glasnow continued to struggle with his command, walking five batters, but he yielded only one run on two hits while striking out two. He had some help from reliever Edgar Santana, who escaped a sixth-inning jam that Glasnow created by walking the bases loaded.

Video: PIT@WSH: Santana fans Robles, gets out of the jam

"It was a battle. He went out there and he competed," Hurdle said of Glasnow. "We had some good sequences. He threw a nice percentage of first-pitch strikes. The velocity was firm. Some of the challenges are still there. I think we had six three-ball counts and five walks. It's hard to walk five guys up here and not get scratched.

"The positive is that he's hard to hit. We've got to keep finding ways to pound that zone, stay aggressive in that zone, be quick and aggressive on the mound."

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pittsburgh Pirates, Ivan Nova