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Roto Roundup: Ivan Nova, Marco Estrada, Justin Turner and others

Ray offers his thoughts on some of the top fantasy performers from Wednesday's roto action, including Marco Estrada, Ivan Nova, Jason Heyward and others.

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Marco Estrada almost perfect

The Blue Jays are in need of starting pitching in the worst way, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them make a deal for a starter in the next month now that they are only two games out of first in the tight American League East. So yesterday's gem from Marco Estrada was a welcome sight for the pitching staff that ranks next to last in the American League.

Estrada set down the first 22 Rays hitters yesterday before Logan Forsythe reached on an infield single. Estrada limited the Rays to just 2 hits, no walks and 10 strikeouts over 8.2 innings but didn't figure in the decision. Estrada has pitched very well of late, giving up just three hits and no runs over his last two starts. He is now 5-3 with a 3.45 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and a 63-23 strikeout to walk rate in 73 innings pitched. He has given up two runs or less in four of his ten starts this season, but has put up a few disaster starts as well.

His strikeout/walk/ground ball rates are all relatively unchanged from 2014, as is his swinging strike rate and ability to induce swings outside the zone. The only real change is the severe drop in hard hit percentage allowed, from 33.8% in 2014 to 24.5% this season. He is owned in just over 10% of leagues right now, so if you are in need for a starter, there are worse pitchers on the waiver wire.

For more on Estrada, make sure you check out Bluebird Banter, SB Nation's Blue Jays fan site.

Roto Roundup

The Yankees are hanging onto first place in the tight AL East and they got a good performance from starter Ivan Nova in his return from Tommy John surgery. Nova shut out the hot Phillies lineup on 3 hits, 2 walks, and just one strikeout in 6.2 innings in the Yankees 10-2 win yesterday afternoon. Back in 2013, Nova won 9 of his 20 starts with a 3.10 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and a 116-44 K-BB in 139 innings, so he was a pretty decent start before the injury. He is owned in just 12% of leagues right now, so grab him if you are in a deeper mixed or AL only league.

I have written a lot about Hector Olivera in these pages over the last few weeks, with the the thought that he would be called up to play third base for the Dodgers. Well, he strained his hamstring a few days ago and will miss a few weeks, so he may not be called up till the All Star break. But it could be longer should Justin Turner continue to hit like he has recently. Last night, Turner homered for the 10th time this season, a career high. Something has clicked over the past year for Turner, who was non-tendered by the Mets after the 2013 season. He is now hitting .325-.396-.578 with 10 home runs 27 runs scored and 35 RBI in 185 plate appearances. His 2.7 fWAR ranks him tied for 4th in baseball among all third baseman, tying him with Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant. It goes without saying that he is having the best year of his career, and is the Dodgers starting third baseman for the time being. He is available in about 60% of leagues right now, so if you like .300 hitters with decent power, Turner could certainly help those of you in mixed or NL only leagues.

I've been pretty hard on Cardinals outfielder Jason Heyward going back to spring training where I recommended readers to avoid him in drafts. That recommendation looked good for the first month of the season, but he has hit well over the past two months. Last night, he went 1-4 with a three run home run in the Cardinals 6-1 win over the Marlins. After hitting just .217-.261-.349 in April, here is how Heyward has performed at the plate in May and June:

May: .284-.340-.443, 3 HRs, 16 runs, 10 RBI, 4 SBs

June: .348-.362-.545, 4 HRs, 9 runs, 13 RBI, 3 SBs

So, he appears to have turned his season around and is on pace to hit 21 home runs and steal 18 bases, which would be a pretty good season for him heading into free agency.

Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz hasn't been the most consistent starter this season, as he is prone to the disaster start from time to time. But recently, Buchholz has pitched well for the last place Red Sox, including last night where he limited the Orioles to just one run on 8 hits, a walk and 7 strikeouts in 7 innings in the Red Sox 5-1 win. Buchholz moved his record to 5-6 with a 3.68 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 3.17 xFIP, a 1.29 WHIP and a 91-23 strikeout to walk rate in 93 innings. As his advanced stats indicate, he has pitched better than his ERA reflects, as he has improved his peripheral stats across the board, with improvements in his K/9, BB/9, HR/9, GB%, hard hit percentage and his swinging strike rate, so if you are looking for a starter, don't be afraid to grab Buchholz who is available in about 50% of leagues right now.

Not many young starters can make the jump to the big leagues and excel like Marlins ace Jose Fernandez. Most have their ups and downs, with solid starts mixed with blow up starts. That's exactly the type of season Brewers young starter Jimmy Nelson is having in his first full season in the Milwaukee rotation. Last night, he pitched a gem, limiting the Mets to a run on 2 hits, a walk and 5 strikeouts in 8 innings in the Brewers 4-1 win. The win moved his record to 4-8 with a 4.34 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 4.06 xFIP, a 1.28 WHIP and a 75-33 strikeout to walk rate in 91.1 innings. Over his last five starts, he has given up 7, 0, 6, 3 and 1 run, so if he can limit the damage in the blow up starts, we could see his ERA drop into the mid-3's in the second half of the season, but he will have to limit the long ball to do so.

The Astros called up pitching prospect Lance McCullers back in mid-May and all he has done since then is pitch better than anyone expected. Yesterday, McCullers limited the Angels to just one run on 4 hits, 3 walks and 6 strikeouts in 6 innings but didn't factor in the decision in a game won by the Angels in 13 innings. In his eight starts, McCullers is 3-2 with a 2.33 ERA,  2.44 FIP, 3.36 xFIP, a 1.04 WHIP and a 52-16 strikeout to walk rate in 46.1 innings. he is striking out ten batters per nine, walking just over three batters per nine and inducing ground balls at a 49% rate, so he has the skills to continue pitching well going forward. He limits the long ball and his hard hit % is just 25.4%, so batters aren't squaring up his offerings either. McCullers is available in 28% of leagues right now, and he might be one of the better pitchers available, so I wouldn't hesitate to grab him if you need a starter, or can stash one.

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