When the Yankees sent Ivan Nova to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre back at the end of May, he had a 5.16 ERA and failed to go longer than five innings in any of his five starts. He came back to the majors at the end of June and had two decent outings, allowing three runs in 6.2 innings against the Rays before going 5.2 innings and surrendering two runs to the high-powered Orioles. While he wasn't exactly setting the world on fire, the results were much better than they had been all year.
Something clicked for Nova (available in 62 percent of Yahoo leagues, 33 percent of CBS leagues, and 61 percent of ESPN leagues) since the calendar turned to July, though, and now he looks like a player who should be owned in all mixed leagues. In his most recent five starts, Nova has allowed seven runs in 38 innings, while striking out 37 batters in that span. His latest start in that stretch was a no-run, four-hit, eight-whiff gem against the Padres on Saturday, lowering his ERA to 3.08 and his FIP to 2.96.
Nova has turned his season around by making a few subtle changes to his repertoire. Instead of throwing solely four-seam fastballs, he has mixed in a much greater percentage of two-seamers. He also eschewed his slider, relying primarily on his curveball when he goes to a breaking pitch. Unsurprisingly, Pitch F/X rates his curveball as his best pitch this year. Given that his recent success has been built on sustainable changes, fantasy owners should have confidence starting Nova for the rest of the season.
• Danny Farquhar, Seattle Mariners (95, 96, 99): After Tom Wilhemsen's implosion against the Red Sox Thursday, allowing four runs on four hits and two walks without recording an out, Farquhar has taken over as Seattle's closer. Pay no attention to Farquhar's 5.24 ERA. He has a 1.99 FIP and 52 strikeouts in 34.1 innings. He has a power fastball, with his average heater sitting at 94.5 mph, but he actually throws his cutter more than 50 percent of the time. As poorly as Wilhelmsen has pitched this year, it's hard to imagine him getting the job back. Farquhar should be universally owned.
• Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds (94, 82, 95): Mesoraco went yard twice on Saturday, running his season slash to .257/.316/.414 with eight homers in 247 plate appearances. Ryan Hanigan is due back soon, but Mesoraco has been swinging a hot bat, so it would be nice to see Dusty Baker stick with him as the primary option behind the dish. Mesoraco hit .294/.329/.441 in July, and if given a chance, he could show the power is legit. In 499 at bats with Triple-A Louisville in 2011, he hit .289/.371/.484 with 15 bombs. He's a little risky for some mixed leagues, but those of you in deeper leagues should feel free to give him a shot.
• Colby Rasmus, Toronto Blue Jays (52, 32, 2): It's pretty remarkable that Rasmus has slashed .282/.342/.493 with a 29.6-percent K-rate through 409 plate appearances, but that's where we're at with the Blue Jays centerfielder. He has a .373 BABIP that he probably won't be able to sustain over the season's final two months, but the power is for real. He hit 23 homers in 2010 and 2012, and he'll almost certainly set a new career high this season, as he has already circled the bases 17 times. He'll help you in the power categories the rest of the season, even if his rates slide a bit.
• Andre Rienzo, Chicago White Sox (98, 93, 99): The White Sox promoted Rienzo from Triple-A Charlotte at the end of July, and he has impressed in his first two starts in the bigs. In his debut against the Indians, he didn't give up an earned run in seven innings, striking out six while allowing five hits and three walks. He faced a Miguel Cabrera-less Tigers team in his second outing, surrendering two runs on six hits in six innings. He had a great year in Charlotte, going 8-6 with a 4.06 ERA, 3.33 FIP and 113 strikeouts in 113 innings. There isn't a whole lot to get excited about on the South Side of Chicago the rest of this season, but Rienzo is an exception.
• Scott Feldman, Baltimore Orioles: It wasn't hard to see the Great Feldman Regression coming once the Cubs sent him to the Orioles. In 36.1 innings in the American League, Feldman has a 5.70 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Given that he wasn't a big strikeout pitcher to begin with, the value he built up with the Cubs is all but gone. Feel free to let him go.
• Tommy Milone, Oakland A's: After getting knocked around for six runs in 3.2 innings by the Rangers on Friday, the A's sent Milone to Triple-A Sacramento. He simply hasn't been able to duplicate the success he had last year, posting a 4.39 ERA and 4.47 FIP In 133.1 innings. He'll likely be back soon (the A's have two off days this week, giving them some flexibility), but he's a non-factor in fantasy leagues.