New York Yankees Ivan Nova pitches to Toronto Blue Jays in New York

The greatness of Ivan Nova is yet to be fully appreciated

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It’s fair to say Ivan Nova is on pretty nice roll right now. He is 11-0 dating back to early June and 7-0 with a 3.45 ERA over seven starts since returning from the minor leagues at the end of July. This includes seven innings of two-run ball in a win over the Blue Jays last night.

Nova is building a pretty strong case to be the Yankees’ No. 2 starter in the playoffs and with 15 wins, he should get plenty of votes for the American League Rookie of the Year award. Most sane baseball fans should be content to leave it at that, but Rob Parker of ESPN New York is here to tell you that the greatness of Nova is yet to be fully appreciated.

New York hasn’t seen a rookie stud pitcher like this since Doc Gooden went 17-9 for the Mets in 1984. Of course, Nova doesn’t have the strikeout magic that Gooden had. But he gets outs and wins.

Yes, that just happened. Parker is comparing Ivan Nova and his 3.99 FIP to Dwight Gooden, who had one of the best rookie seasons of all-time when he posted a 1.69 FIP for the Mets in 1984. Making this an argument about wins is about as intellectually lazy as you can get.

I don’t want to take anything away from Nova, because he has pitched quite well recently, but his numbers are actually very close to Jon Niese, who posted a 4.20 ERA (4.10 FIP, 3.89 xFIP) as a rookie with the crosstown Mets last season. A nice year, yes, but Nova’s contributions wouldn’t look nearly impressive if he was pitching somewhere else.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.