Tigers stabilize their rotation by signing durable veteran Ivan Nova

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News

Detroit — General manager Al Avila has said all offseason that he wanted to add another veteran starting pitcher and on Monday he did just that, signing 33-year-old right-hander Ivan Nova to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million plus incentives.

Ivan Nova

“Ivan fits that need while also providing strong leadership in the clubhouse,” Avila said in a statement. “Ivan has a proven track record of reliability, throwing at least 160 innings in each of the last four seasons, and often puts his club in a position to win when he’s on the mound.”

Nova, entering his 11th big-league season, made an American League-most 34 starts for the White Sox last season and logged 187 innings. He also led the league in hits allowed (225), mitigating damage with a Major League Baseball-best 30 double-play balls.

He posted an 11-12 record with a 4.72 ERA.

“I’ve had the opportunity to play for some historic organizations during my professional career, and joining the Tigers adds to that list in a big way,” said Nova, who has also pitched for the Yankees and Pirates. “This is a very exciting day for me, and I’m looking forward to meeting my teammates and coaches and working with them to bring winning baseball to the great fans here in Detroit.”

Nova, a strike-thrower, has a five-pitch repertoire, relying mostly on his sinker and four-seam fastballs — both clocking between 92-93 mph. He also has a slow, big-breaking curveball, a change-up and cutter. He has below-average spin rates on all of his pitches, misses very few bats (a 14 percent strikeout rate last season ranked in the bottom third of the league), but gets a lot of ground balls.

He's averaged 174 innings over the last four seasons with an impressive walk rate of just 1.89 per nine innings. That is the fourth-lowest walk rate in the major leagues in that span. 

His experience and durability should serve the Tigers’ staff well. He joins a probable rotation of Matthew Boyd, Spencer Turnbull, Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris. Rookie left-hander Tyler Alexander will also compete for a spot, but Nova’s presence gives the Tigers the ability to possibly use Alexander out of the bullpen.

To make room for Nova on the 40-man roster, the Tigers designated lefty Matt Hall for assignment.


Twitter: @cmccosky