Bits: Nova showing signs of improvement

New York Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova hurled eight strong innings against the Tampa Bay Rays Wednesday, allowing one run in his best performance of the season. Nova has induced 13 ground ball outs in each of his past two starts and permitted only one home run. If he continues this trend, his 1.47 WHIP can drop quite a bit, making him standard mixed-league worthy.

While Nova has seven wins, Washington Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson has pitched well all year but didn't win his second game until Wednesday, allowing only three hits and three runs (two earned) in seven innings. Jackson boasts a 3.11 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, yet he's available in nearly a third of leagues. Own him for the solid innings, and he should win double-digit games.

Cleveland Indians outfielder Michael Brantley slugged his first home run of the season Wednesday, a three-run blast off Max Scherzer. Brantley is one of ESPN's most-added players, thanks to a .282 batting average, buoyed by a 14-game hitting streak during which he has 14 RBIs. Playing time is assured, and so might be a 25-steal campaign. Brantley's a top-50 outfielder now.

Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt homered, doubled twice and knocked in three runs Wednesday. Goldschmidt struggled for a while, but has four home runs and seven RBIs in six games, lifting what was a .248 batting average on May 28 to its current .288. Goldschmidt's power is real, but prepare for batting average regression. A .360 BABIP and miserable strikeout rate are two clues.

Kansas City Royals right-hander Felipe Paulino left Wednesday's start in the first inning with a strained groin and could be headed for the disabled list. Paulino, one of the most-added players in ESPN leagues thanks to a sparkling 1.67 ERA and major strikeout rate, would be droppable if he misses time. Watch out for top pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, seemingly ready for promotion. Odorizzi, acquired in the Zack Greinke trade, has strikeout potential.

Vladimir Guerrero is 3-for-17 so far at Triple-A Las Vegas, so the Toronto Blue Jays might decide to stick with David Cooper as their designated hitter for a bit longer. Cooper had three more hits Wednesday, blasted a home run Tuesday and is hitting .366. Cooper has value in deep formats for batting average.