Over the past week, the most added player in ESPN fantasy baseball leagues was… Gary Sanchez. Seriously? Is it that difficult to part with Matt Wieters at this point? Sanchez should be universally owned (and practically is by now) and I’ve discussed him ad nauseam in this space over the past few weeks, so we’ll move on to the next name on the most added list. Let’s see… Ivan Nova (30.2% owned; +20.5% over the past week)? Step on up! The new Pittsburgh Pirate acquisition has left the unfriendly pitching environment of Yankee Stadium behind and seems to be enjoying a career renaissance under the tutelage of renowned pitcher whisperer Ray Searage. The main differences in Nova under Searage’s watchful eyes are that he’s throwing more strikes and keeping the ball in the park more effectively. In 97.1 innings with the Yankees this season, Nova allowed 19 home runs (1.76 HR/9) and had a first-pitch strike percentage of 58.4%, leading to a 2.31 BB/9. In five starts (31.1 innings pitched) with the Pirates, he’s allowed just 3 home runs (0.86 HR/9) and improved his F-Strike% by 11% (to 69.4%) in the process, walking just one hitter (0.29 BB/9) along the way. Consequently, Nova’s 4.90 ERA and 1.36 WHIP as a Yankee have improved to 2.87 and 0.99 as a Pirate. Nova appears to be well on his way to joining the ranks of pitchers such as Edinson Volquez, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ whose careers were revitalized after suppling the teat of their new pitching daddy. If you need starting pitching help down the stretch, Nova is definitely worth a look.
Here are a couple of other interesting adds/drops in fantasy baseball over the past week:
Alex Reyes: 27.0% owned; +8.8%
Does a hard-throwing Cardinals rookie pitcher with a fastball/curveball/changeup arsenal making a late season transition from the bullpen to the starting rotation sound familiar? If you’ve followed the Cardinals over the past few years, you might remember a pitcher by the name of Carlos Martinez who fit that same profile and was broken into the big leagues in the exact same manner. The similarities don’t end there. Reyes throws extremely hard (97.3 mph FBv) and misses plenty of bats (10.7% SwStr%), but he also has trouble controlling his impressive stuff at times. He’s already walked 8 hitters in just 14 MLB innings and hasn’t posted a BB/9 under 4.32 at any minor league stop during his career. C-Mart didn’t enjoy consistent success until he introduced a slider into his repertoire and learned to find the plate more consistently. Reyes has huge upside and strikeout potential, but he’ll get whippy at times, and the Cards are likely to limit his innings and pitch counts down the stretch. He’s definitely one to watch in dynasty leagues, but he’s not likely to make much of a difference over the next five weeks. TRASH.
Devon Travis: 37.3% owned; -6.7%
The drop in ownership percentage for Travis is somewhat understandable. He missed four games last week with soreness in his hand, and hand issues can be problematic for hitters. However, let’s not forget that over the course of roughly three months (or half of the season), Travis has produced 43 runs, 10 homers, 39 RBI, 3 steals, and a .296/.329/.467 slash line. The return of Jose Bautista from the disabled list has bumped Travis out of the leadoff spot and down into the bottom third of the Blue Jays lineup for the time being, but he’s still a 20 homer hitter who can hit for average and chip in a few steals out of a middle infield slot. Assuming the hand is no longer an issue, Travis could prove to be quite valuable down the stretch. TREASURE.