With the trade deadline quickly approaching, the Chicago White Sox allowed Ivan Nova to pitch a complete game. That move may pay unexpected dividends.
In the 9th inning of the White Sox 9-1 victory over the Miami Marlins, a funny thing happened. Manager Rick Renteria went out for a mound visit with Ivan Nova’s pitch count at 111 . For a change, Whatever he said worked.
Chuck Garfien interviewed Nova after the game on NBC Sports Chicago. Nova said “a great starting pitcher wants to go deep in the game all the time, be efficient, throw strikes. They were being aggressive. I took advantage of it. He wanted to take me out. I said “No”. I knew it was my last hitter in a way.” One can infer from Nova’s words that Rentaria basically said to him “Ok. But if you don’t get the next guy out I am yanking you.”
That moment explains the resurgence of the White Sox starting staff, which includes Nova, Lucas Giolito, Ronaldo Lopez who threw a gem in last nights lost (a 1.71 ERA since the all-star break), and the confident arrival of Dylan Cease. Apparently, Renteria asked his pitcher to come out of the game and Nova refused. As luck would have it, one pitch later the game was over on a Neil Walker liner to Yolmer Sanchez to double up the runner at second. It was the first nine inning complete game for a White Sox pitcher since May 7th. The first from someone not named Giolito.
I am not a stat guy. I still believe that sometimes you just must trust your gut, as a manager and as a player. That’s why I like that Rick Renteria, at strategic times, just let’s his guys play. Some players even just have a green light to be themselves. This is most evident when Tim Anderson is on the base paths. Granted, Tim has killed a couple rallies with some bad decisions but allowing the White Sox to play the game the old-fashioned way has many positives, including:
- Builds trust between manager and players
- Builds self confidence in the player
- Keeps the opposing team on their toes
I call those “soft stats”. That mound visit spoke volumes. Renteria told his players their voice matters. He told his players their careers matter. Renteria showed White Sox fans that old school baseball, and a complete game, still matter.
In this case, allowing Nova to pitch to that last batter was a low risk, high reward move. Nova would have come out if Walker had reached base. Instead he preserved the entire bullpen. Even more so, with the trade deadline approaching, some teams may look at Nova’s complete game and his consistent quality starts. Since May 22nd, Nova has had only one start where he did not complete at least 5 innings.
A dependable arm like that should be in high demand. Otherwise, the White Sox risk losing Nova in free agency at years end and getting nothing in return. Of course, Nova is also very aware of this possibility. Don’t you think he would like to improve his shot of landing on a contender for the rest of the season? The team on the North Side certainly could be calling.
Nice move Ricky!