The calendar may say July, but here on the waiver wire it still feels like graduation season. That's because three guys who were recently tabbed as targets in AL- or NL-only leagues are now hearing "Pomp and Circumstance" as they make their way across the stage and receive their diploma making them mixed-league worthy. Toss in a member of the old guard making his return to fantasy relevance, and it feels like a graduate school commencement.
Eric Thames, Blue Jays -- In the seven games Thames has played since we last discussed him, he's 8-for-25 with two homers, and four RBI. He entered one of those games in the eighth inning, so while he may not start every day, he should be good for at least five starts a week. If you're in a league that only uses three outfielders, he's probably off your radar, but he should be owned in all five outfielder leagues, and could be a utility guy in deep mixed leagues, as well.
Cory Luebke, Padres -- It's safe to say the move to the rotation hasn't messed with Luebke's head at all. In two starts after three strong months as a reliever, Luebke hasn't allowed a run while striking out 13 batters, walking two and surrendering just three hits in 11 innings. One start was at home and the other was in Seattle, so he has had the benefit of pitching in favorable environments and facing a bad offense in one game, but there's no reason to doubt what he can do at this point. In 50 innings this year, he has whiffed 56 batters and allowed just 44 baserunners. With plenty more starts at Petco on the horizon, Luebke is a must-add this week.
Rubby De La Rosa, Dodgers -- Yes, De La Rosa has lost his last four starts. In those starts, however, he has 21 strikeouts in 24.2 innings while allowing just 26 hits. De La Rosa is going to walk batters and give up his fair share of runs. He's young, and he doesn't feature tremendous command. He's also going to strike out a ton of hitters, and that makes him valuable. He has already shown an ability to miss bats at just 22-years old. Owners in 12-team mixed leagues should check his status and make a move for him if he's available.
Joe Nathan, Twins -- It was a rough holiday weekend for Minnesota closer Matt Capps. On Saturday, he coughed up a lead, giving up four runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning. He was called upon the next day and promptly gave up two hits while getting just one out. Tuesday he got two outs sandwiched by a homer to B.J. Upton, a single and a walk before being lifted for Glen Perkins. If you're scoring at home, you already know that in his last three appearances, Capps has given up five runs on five hits and a walk while getting just five outs.
Enter Joe Nathan. Nathan has made five appearances in the last two weeks, allowing one hit and one run (a solo homer to Corey Hart) while striking out five. He also appears to have the understudy chair locked down, pitching the eighth inning. If Capps eventually loses his hold on the closer's job, the bet here is that he loses it to Nathan.
Mike Leake, Reds -- Leake has pitched at least six innings in each of his last eight starts, going eight innings twice, winning five games, and striking out 34 batters in 53 innings. Even more encouraging, he has only walked 10 batters in that span, with three of them coming in the first start of the eight-game stretch. With a strong offense at his back, the wins should be there.
Marlon Byrd, Cubs -- Byrd returned from the DL last week and is back in the lineup every day for the Cubs. He's a nice contributor in three categories (average, runs, RBI).
Alex Presley, Pirates -- Presley's playing time is tied to Jose Tabata's DL stint, but that doesn't mean he can't help you in the short term. He hit a homer in his first game after getting the call and posted a .336/.389/.500 slash at Triple-A this season.
Mat Gamel, Brewers -- Gamel will certainly be a part of the Brewers in 2012 and could end up in a trade if the Brewers make a big deal in the next couple weeks. Don't go crazy for him, but he is a guy who could pay off in the not-too-distant-future.
Desmond Jennings, Rays -- As for someone who could have a huge payoff, Jennings is rumored to be getting the call from Triple-A Durham soon. He's the sort of guy you empty your budget for, especially if you need steals.
Rich Harden, A's -- You know the drill here. Harden's useful while healthy. He likely won't stay healthy for long. Bid accordingly.
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