Can you believe it? As we wrap up the weekend and head into week 14, teams will hit the 81 game mark, exactly half way through the 2013 season. Middle is the key word in this week's edition of Waiver Flavor. A handful of tried and true closers returned this week; J.J. Putz, Rafael Betancourt and Chris Perez to be specific. Chances are these guys were reserved in your league, so the main impact is that Heath Bell, Rex Brothers and Vinnie Pestano return to Middle relievers (OK setup men). We also are getting back Middle infielders Asdrubal Cabrera, Aaron Hill and Jose Reyes from injury. Temporary help like Mike Aviles and fellow Middle infielders in Arizona and Toronto take a major hit.
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Tony Cingrani SP Cincinnati- Cingrani returns to a very solid Reds rotation with Jose Cueto back to the disabled list. You have to love the strikeouts he is going to pile up in bunches. His stint in the bullpen was short lived, too bad, as it could have worked on any team that didn't already have a nasty,lights out southpaw at the back end. Cingrani is 3-0 over seven starts with an ERA of 3.42 and a 1.12 WHIP. 57 strikeouts over 47 innings should catch your attention, it has surely caught mine!
Kyle Gibson SP Minnesota- Gibson finally got his chance Saturday afternoon and didn't disappoint. We know he has the killer blood lines and his towering 6'6" frame. Gibson is a ground ball pitcher that touches the mid-90's and didn't walk a single batter in his debut. Gibson was 7-5 in Triple-A with an ERA of 3.10 and a 1.14 WHIP. Gibson will get a chance to prove himself again when he faces the New York Yankees this week.
Joe Kelly SP St. Louis- We mentioned him briefly last month and he made his full fledged debut on Waiver Flavor in Week 13 as the sleeper of the week. Since getting named the fifth starter a week ago, Kelly has allowed only a single run in ten and third innings. According to the Cardinals, his spot in the rotation won't come up again until July 6th. Only 25 years old, Kelly does have experience in the rotation, having started 16 games for the Cardinals last season.
Joe Blanton SP LA Angels- We waded in with a Blanton mention a couple of weeks ago, since he was still fresh off a six run outing at Fenway. Blanton has been very solid in three starts since, allowing only five earned runs, while striking out 23 and issuing only four walks. Two of the starts were no decisions, but he did earn a win at Houston on Saturday.
Nate Eovaldi SP Miami- Seems like I took a chance on him on my National League only team back when he was a prospect for the Dodgers. Eovaldi appeared as a blip on your radar with a solid outing at Arizona on the 18th. Eovaldi improved in his second start on Sunday at San Francisco, picking up his first win of the season in the process. Eovaldi has a fastball nearing triple digits.
Esmil Rogers SP Toronto- I have been slow and reluctant to trust Rogers, but his best performance to date on Saturday has me reconsidering. Rogers had his best start to date over the weekend, scattering six hits over six shutout innings @ Fenway. Rogers struck out six Red Sox, while issuing only a single walk. Rogers is now 3-3 on the season with an ERA of 3.12 and a 1.25 WHIP. 38 strikeouts and 18 walks in nearly 61 innings of work remains a cause for concern.
Kevin Gausman SP Baltimore- Following a solid start earlier this month,the Orioles sent Gausman down so they could bring up some bullpen depth. Buck Showalter thought about starting Gausman on Friday night, but opted to use him as a long man out of the pen. Over his last two appearances covering ten innings, Gausman has allowed only a pair of runs, nine hits, while striking out nine and not issuing a walk. Gausman may end up #1 in the long run with Dylan Bundy #2.
Mark Melancon RP Pittsburgh- Could Melancon be in line for more saves in the season's second half? Melancon picked up his second win and second save of the season this week, but has earned much more. Pittsburgh was the first team to hit the 50 win mark and quite frankly they are winning more than even Jason Grilli can save. Check out these ridiculous numbers: 0.92 ERA and 0.86 WHIP with 43 strikeouts and only four walks over 39 innings.
Bruce Rondon RP Detroit- Rondon is again getting a chance, but the Tigers insist it isn't going to be as a closer .My question is this? Why not? With Jose Valverde gone for good, Rondon has been "lights out" in Triple-A, with 14 saves and 40 strikeouts in only 29 innings of work at Toledo.
Oliver Perez RP Seattle- Yes, that Oliver Perez. Always possessing electric stuff, when Perez was bad, he was real bad. Perez allowed two runs on Saturday night and that is cause for alarm. Alarming in the sense that those that follow Perez and the M's aren't used to him giving up anything. Perez had not allowed a run since May 18th before Saturday night.
Chris Carter 1B/OF Houston- Carter continues to hit the long ball with regularity, only the hits are coming more frequently. Carter is on pace for 30 home runs and 80 RBI, but nobody ever doubted he would bring power to the middle of the Astros order. Carter has four multi-hit games over the past two weeks, dragging that average north of .230.
Juan Francisco 1B/3B Milwaukee- When Freddie Freeman returning from injury last month, the Braves settled on Chris Johnson at third, abandoning the rotation with Francisco. Juan has four home runs since arriving from Atlanta, including back to back to back home runs over three consecutive games this week. Have they finally filled the hole at first base?
Rickie Weeks 2B Milwaukee- Had you given up on Weeks? An All-Star just two years ago, Weeks appears to have refound his game. If you hadn't noticed Weeks return to form, his two home runs on Tuesday night probably caught your attention. Weeks has five home runs in June and has rasied his average into the .230's after a dreadful start.
Brad Miller SS Seattle- The Mariners are wisely going to give their stud prospects a chance in the season's second half. Miller and Nick Franklin could be the M's double play duo for years to come. Miller earned his shot at "the show", hitting a dozen home runs, with 53 RBI and half a dozen stolen bases at two minor league levels.
Ryan Flaherty INF Baltimore- Sure Brian Roberts is coming back, but how long will he last? Flaherty's hot hitting of late may have earned him a stay on the roster oer Alexi Cailla. Flaherty has now hit in eight straight games, going 14-for-29 in the process! Flaherty is displaying solid power numbers as well during the streak with four home runs and nine RBI.
Maicer Izturis INF Toronto- How much of an impact with Jose Reyes' return have on the recent success Itzuris has been enjoying? When Reyes first went on the DL, Izturis was just plain terrible as the short term answer at shortstop. Izturis has now settled in as the Jays utility infielder and is providing surprising power with five home runs and 17 RBI,
Rajai Davis OF Toronto- The Jays are finally playing like many expected them to and Davis has begun to contribute as well. Since Melky Cabrera landed on the disabled list (knee), Davis is 6-for-12 with four stolen bases and three runs scored. Brett Lawrie's absence also assures more opportunities for Davis and Emilio Bonifacio.
J.B. Shuck OF LA Angels- Peter Bourjos appeared to be breaking out, but is now breaking down. Bourjos left with injury again on Saturday night, so Shuck will continue to get regular at bats, at least in the short term. Shuck picked up eleven hits this week, to go along with six RBI and a pair of stolen bass. Bourjos is now battling wrist and thumb issues.
Delmon Young OF Philadelphia- Wow, talk about white hot! Once the top overall pick in the June first-year player draft by Tampa, Young is finally rewarding Philadelphia for picking him up this season. Over the past four games, Young is 10-for-17 with a home run and eight RBI. Could be in line for huge second half.
Hank Conger C LA Angels- Waiver Flavor sleeper of the week. The 25 year old switch hitter is a former first round pick and the Halos appear to be giving him more opportunities to prove that lofty status. Improvement defensively is giving him the chance as he is throwing out base runners at three times the rate of Chris Ianetta.
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Tom Blaz is a writer for Fantasy Alarm and co-owner of The Recruiting Eagle a website focusing on Auburn University Athletics. Follow Tom on twitter @RecruitingEagle
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