Ryan Dempster - Ryan Dempster was finally traded from the Cubs on Tuesday, just before the July 31st 4 p.m. EST trade deadline. Dempster was shipped to Texas in exchange for minor leaguers Christian Villanueva and Kyle Hendricks. The right hander, who sports a 5-5 record but 2.25 ERA in 104 innings, will make his Rangers' debut on Thursday against Anaheim. Dempster's fantasy managers should be disappointed he wasn't sent to LA, where he would have enjoyed a much friendlier home park. Instead, he'll pitch in the heat of Texas and that will likely feed into Dempster's expected regression. His xFIP is 1.5 runs above his ERA and he's enjoying a .242 BABIP and 84% strand rate. Compared to last season, Dempster is striking out fewer but also walking fewer and allowing just 0.78 HRs per game. Don't expect Dempster to have nearly as much success in the AL as he had in the NL this season - he is a prime sell-high candidate.
Ivan Nova - Ivan Nova gave up 7 ER with 2 outs in the 2nd against Baltimore on Tuesday and finished with an ugly line of 5 innings and 9 ER allowed. Nova now owns a 4.53 ERA and 3.93 xFIP for the 2012 season. He gave up a grand slam to Chris Davis, which was the 21st HR he's allowed this season in just 133 innings. The long ball (1.42 HR/9) has haunted Nova as his strikeout rate (8.05) and walk rate (2.91) are actually both solid. Add in a 46% GB rate and I'm a bigger fan of Nova than most. He is going to give you a dud outing every once in awhile and he's a much better play on the road, but overall, you can do worse for a spot starter in deep leagues. By season's end, Nova will have about 170 strikeouts and an ERA around 4.00, which aren't bad numbers for a 25-year old starter in the AL East.
Alex Gordon - Alex Gordon had a big game against the Tribe on Tuesday, knocking out 3 hits, including 2 doubles. In looking at Gordon's career, it seems more and more like his 2011 power numbers are closer to a mirage than reality. Last year, Gordon tallied a .200 ISO and .502 SLG% to go along with 23 HRs. However, while Gordon's BA has remained solid at .294 in 2012, his SLG% is down to .433 and he's hit only 5 HRs. He also owns just a .139 ISO. All those numbers from 2012 are right in line with his career marks when you take out his 2011 season. The expectation for Gordon moving forward is a guy who will provide a solid BA, nice OBP and just average to below average power.
Alcides Escobar - The Royals' shortstop had another solid game on Tuesday, this time tallying 3 RBI and collecting 2 hits against Cleveland. Escobar is now batting an impressive .307 to go along with a nice .426 SLG%. Last season, Escobar owned an 18% LD rate, .285 BABIP and .254 BA. However, this season, Escobar has improved his LD rate to 23.5% and his BABIP has rocketed to .365. While we'd expect some bump in BABIP as the LD rate improves, seeing an 80-point increase suggests the shortstop is enjoying some luck in addition to improved skill. He should be able to maintain some of that BABIP moving forward, so expect his true ability to be closer to the .280-.290 range than over .300. He should remain a solid SS option in all league formats.
Jered Weaver - Tasked with the tough assignment known as the Rangers' offense, Jered Weaver tossed a solid game by allowing just 2 ER over 6 1/3 innings on Tuesday. He whiffed 3 and walked just 1. Weaver's ERA is a sparkling 2.29, but he's actually been very lucky throughout the year as evidenced by his much more pedestrian 4.01 xFIP. At 6.79, Weaver's whiff rate is the lowest since his 2007 season and he's benefited from an 81% strand rate and .232 BABIP. Weaver's GB rate is also just 37% and his chase rate has dropped to the lowest point since 2009. All said, Weaver's still considered a fantasy ace based on his ERA, but don't expect him to continue to pitch this well moving forward. His ERA should jump in the coming starts and be much closer to 3.50 than 2.50.
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