Ivan Nova, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

The right-hander benefitted from a dream move at the trade deadline, trading his pinstripes for the black-and-yellow of the Buccos. Home runs have been his bugaboo throughout his career, and PNC Park has had the fifth-lowest park factor for homers in 2016. It should be a move—over a larger sample—that benefits his run prevention by keeping the ball in the field of play and relying on the Pirates’ quality defense.

Nova had a 4.90 ERA with the Yankees but owns a 4.18 DRA and 97 cFIP. In other words, he’s been (and projects to be) better than his ERA would otherwise suggest. Of course, the tutelage of Ray Searage shouldn’t hurt, either, but I do think it’s too simple to suggest he magically makes everyone better. The right-hander’s encouraging peripherals and improved environment should help on their own.

Tyler Thornburg, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

The closer position can be extremely volatile in July and August, and that’s certainly been the case in Milwaukee. The Brewers traded multiple key relievers to take advantage of the attractive market, which gifted the ninth inning to Thornburg — who has been absolutely dynamite this year with a 2.17 ERA and a 35.4 percent strikeout rate. His 2.49 DRA ranks 14th in all of baseball (min. 40 IP). His 76 cFIP ranks 23rd in the league, too. By pretty much any measure, he’s been dominant.

The question, of course, is whether Thornburg can sustain this tremendous run of form. His swinging-strike rate has increased to 11.7 percent, which is a career high by almost two percent. The likelihood that that’s sustainable is bolstered by the fact that his velocity has jumped this year.

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Thornburg has dealt with injuries and has bounced between the rotation and the bullpen. Now that he’s found a permanent home in the ‘pen and has fully recovered from his “UCL weakness,” he appears poised for success in the Brewers’ bullpen.

Andrew Susac, C, Milwaukee Brewers

I wrote about the increase in Susac’s fantasy value on August 1st, and he remains one of the players who saw his stock rise the most. Not only is he free from the shadow of Buster Posey, but he’s also moving to a much better ballpark that should accent the power that should anchor his future value. He has a chance to hit 15-20 homers in Miller Park with a decent on-base percentage.

His profile doesn’t come without risk. He struck out almost 30 percent of the time in 2014 and 2015, so even though he’s boasting an 18.8 percent strikeout rate this year, he hasn’t shown the ability to limit swings-and-misses in the majors. Fantasy owners would be wise to not expect anything more than a batting average between .250-.270. He should remain valuable—once he’s called up to the major-league squad—because he offers power in a fantasy catcher landscape that’s putrid.

Dilson Herrera, 2B, Cincinnati Reds

Even though he’s only 22 years old, it seems like Herrera has been knocking at the big-league door for ages. He’s struggled to find an opportunity for regular playing time in New York, though, which makes his move to the Reds’ organization very attractive for fantasy owners. He was hitting .276/.327/.462 with 24 doubles, two triples, and 13 homers for Triple-A Las Vegas and is currently biding his time in Triple-A Louisville for Cincy. Once he gets the call, however, he’ll benefit from a tiny ballpark and should have a chance to hit 20-plus homers with a full season of at-bats.

The presence of Brandon Phillips complicates matters in the immediate future, but make no mistake: Herrera is the future for the Reds at second base. It could begin as soon as Opening Day at 2017, too.


Jeremy Jeffress, RHP, Texas Rangers

Inheriting the ninth inning in Milwaukee this year with the departure of Francisco Rodriguez, the right-hander became one of the top closers in the National League with 27 saves and a 2.22 ERA. It allowed him to attract some national spotlight and helped people realize that he put up a 2.35 ERA since re-joining the Brewers in 2014.

Unfortunately, his move to Texas puts a significant dent in his fantasy value because he has moved to the set-up role for the Rangers. Sam Dyson has been phenomenal in the role and manager Jeff Banister had no real reason to oust him as the club’s closer. As such, Jeffress is just another speculative add in standard formats. He doesn’t strikeout enough batters to be valuable without the save opportunities. Of course, if Dyson opens the door through injury or ineffectiveness, Jeffress has shown that he’s more than capable of handling the job.

It’s just tough to see a top-10 closer suddenly become borderline unrosterable.

Cody Allen, RHP, Cleveland Indians

Allen’s story is similar to that of Jeremy Jeffress, except he’s dealing with a recent addition coming in and elbowing him out of the closer’s role. The 27-year-old hasn’t been dominant in recent years, mostly due to occasional bouts of wildness that cause inconsistency, but he hasn’t posted an ERA above 3.00 since 2012. Plenty valuable.

Of course, the presence of Andrew Miller and his long-term contract all but dooms his upcoming fantasy value. Owners in both standard and dynasty leagues have seen Allen become one of the myriad of high-strikeout middle relievers who walk too many batters to be elite.

Matt Kemp, OF, Atlanta Braves

Despite his .285 OBP with the Padres this year, Kemp has been pretty good for fantasy owners thanks to a .262 batting average and 23 homers. Unfortunately, the Padres’ desire to clear his salary has landed him in Atlanta, the only team that had scored under 400 runs in 2016 coming into Tuesday’s games. He should have a difficult time maintaining his lofty RBI and run totals with the Braves.

His new ballpark isn’t any friendlier—or, at least, not meaningfully so—but Kemp’s supporting cast is markedly worse. One could wonder if he’ll benefit from the arrival of Atlanta’s prized prospects, such as Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies, but he’s about to turn 32 years old and has battled injuries in recent years. Plus, he’ll have to improve his sub-.300 OBP if he hopes to get consistent playing time on those hypothetical “more competitive” teams. All in all, it’s hard to see Kemp’s fantasy stock as anything but depressed at this point.

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