Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Do we dare add Ivan Nova?
Ivan Nova shut down the Astros on Tuesday to continue a dominant five-start stretch. Scott White gauges its legitimacy while also sizing up the Braves closer situation and recent prospect call-up Josh Rojas.
Oh, you mean I have to explain myself? Well, if you insist ...
Ivan Nova has obviously had a terrific five-start stretch, capped by Tuesday's complete game effort in which he allowed just one unearned run against the Astros, of all teams. It was his third start of at least eight innings during that stretch, and through it all, he has allowed a combined two earned runs.
It's the sort of blip that can right a wayward season, normalizing a pitcher's numbers to the extent that no one even remembers anything was wrong in the first place, and in Nova's case, it has brought his ERA all the way down ... to 4.51. Huh.
And the peripherals suggest even that's better than it should be.
It's hard to talk about righting the wrongs for someone like Nova, whose "right" is just barely good enough to hold down a job. At 32, he's not really going to surprise us anymore. He throws strikes, which allows him to go long on those days when hitters are having trouble squaring up his pitches and can occasionally lead to stretches such as this one. But it's worth pointing out he has averaged just 4.1 strikeouts per nine innings over those five starts, terrific as they were, which is beyond pathetic and a clear enough indication that he hasn't unearthed some new miracle pitch that will elevate him to new heights.
Long story short, I can't possibly overstate the amount of mess about to come Nova's way. Allowing that much contact is a recipe for disaster in this sort of homer-friendly environment in which even the truest of aces are susceptible to a meltdown any given day. The moment you decide to entrust him with a lineup spot could be the moment of the inevitable cave-in, and the hurting put on your ERA and WHIP is likely to leave you quaking.
Don't put yourself in that position. Just say no to Ivan Nova.
Josh Rojas RF
ARI Arizona • #9 • Age: 25
Josh Rojas' arrival to the Fantasy scene is one of those bizarre developments for which we should all just be happy to go along for the ride. Scarcely anyone had heard of him prior to his inclusion in the Zack Greinke trade, and then it was like, whoa, the Astros have been hiding the second coming of Carlos Beltran all this time. Is it mostly a product of the juiced balls at Triple-A? Are those reports of him learning to drive the ball the other way enough to fuel this much of a breakthrough for the 25-year-old? Hard to say. But the fact there are no obvious weaknesses in his game, right down to the strikeout and walk rates, makes him super interesting, and he should get close to everyday at-bats bouncing around the diamond for the Diamondbacks.
ATL Atlanta • #36 • Age: 34
At last update, I said the Braves' closer decision would likely still come down to Shane Greene and Mark Melancon even with everyone doing their part to forfeit the role, and after Tuesday's game, it's clear Melancon is in the driver's seat. He struck out two in a perfect ninth inning, securing a save, and has now allowed a baserunner in only seven of his past 15 appearances. Greene, meanwhile, couldn't complete the eighth inning, allowing two earned runs while recording just one out. I still prefer Brandon Workman and Emilio Pagan for now, but the Braves should provide save chances aplenty.
Sean Manaea SP
OAK Oakland • #55 • Age: 27
A more hopeful place to turn for pitching help than Nova would be someone like Sean Manaea. Recovering from a torn labrum is no small feat, and it's not like he was a tried-and-true rotation option before then, riding extreme highs and lows to fairly average numbers overall. But there was a sense that the 27-year-old's potential hadn't fully manifested, and judging by his last couple rehab starts, it may not be entirely lost. Despite taking a couple weeks off for a side issue, the left-hander struck out 10 over 5 2/3 innings in a difficult Triple-A assignment Tuesday. He struck out eight over six three-hit innings last time. He's not exactly lighting up the radar gun, but then, that was never his MO. Seems worth a flier with his next start possibly coming in the majors.
OAK Oakland • #44 • Age: 21
Even more promising than Manaea is the possible next man up for the Athletics, Jesus Luzardo, who seems to be making much quicker progress in his return from a strained lat than when he was working his way back from a strained rotator cuff. He struck out seven over three perfect innings at high Class A Saturday, which was effectively the end of his rehab assignment. He'll continue to build up at Triple-A for at least a couple starts, at which point he may be ready to take over a big-league rotation spot. And you need only refamiliarize yourself with last year's numbers to know what an exciting development that would be.
DET Detroit • #50 • Age: 24
He strikes out too much and did as a minor-leaguer, too, but the fact nobody has gravitated to Travis Demeritte, who has started literally every game since coming over in the Shane Greene deal, makes him easier to get behind. He stole his third base in only 12 games Thursday, which is a surprise given his minor-league track record, but if it's something he's showing the inclination to do, I don't know why the down-and-out Tigers would stop him. Power is his calling card, yet he has managed to be productive even while hitting just one home run so far, averaging more Head-to-Head points per game than the guy he's replacing, Nicholas Castellanos, thanks in part to a high walk rate.
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