Pirates name Ivan Nova starter for opening day, Jameson Taillon for home opener
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Pirates manager Clint Hurdle announced Wednesday that Ivan Nova will be the starting pitcher for the season opener March 29 at Detroit and Jameson Taillon for the home opener April 2 against the Minnesota Twins at PNC Park.
"We landed on it awhile ago," Hurdle said. "You look at the five principals involved, how you want to cut it up and who you want to give an opportunity to. Nova's never had one. Nova's the dean of the starting rotation."
Nova, 31, was 11-14, with a 4.14 ERA in 187 innings over 31 starts last season. Hurdle said he had conversations with general manager Neal Huntington and pitching coach Ray Searage, and they decided to "give him the ball in Detroit and let him break open the season for us."
"He was excited," Hurdle said. "It's kind of cool to see a guy in your over-30 club that's getting his first opening-day opportunity. He'll be ready to go."
Taillon, 26, the Pirates' first-round pick (No. 2 overall) in 2010, was 8-7, with a 4.44 ERA in 133.2 innings in 25 starts last season. He missed six weeks after having surgery for testicular cancer.
"You want a guy to do something meaningful on the home opener because it's an exciting day that they hopefully play down to the adrenaline," Hurdle said. "If you're going to pick somebody that's dealt with more adversity than Taillon, I don't know if you'll find one.
"So, the home opener, I don't think that's anything that's going to rattle him right now. He was excited about the opportunity, as well."
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.