Eury Perez just made his first start in three weeks.
Granted, it was at Double-A, and he lasted only 2 1/3 innings. But it was the first stage of a ramp-up process that will certainly end with him back in the big leagues -- and my guess is sooner than later.
Why? The Marlins didn't shut him down because of injury but because of workload. He's 20 years old and has never thrown even 90 innings as a professional. As a team with playoff aspirations, they had to shut him down to save whatever bullets he has left for the stretch run. They didn't save them only waste them at Double-A.
My best guess is that he makes one more appearance in the minors and then he rejoins the big club. He may only be stretched out to four innings at that point -- and I'd be shocked if he went more than six innings even once the rest of the way -- but it doesn't matter. He's too good to shelve.
I'm saying all this so that you take a moment to check your league's waiver wire and make sure he's not available. He's 81 percent rostered in CBS Sports leagues, which is too high to make him an official entry in this Waiver Wire column, but if you're in one of the 19 percent of leagues where he's available, it's time to act.
Jarren Duran CF
BOS Boston • #16 • Age: 27
You may remember that Duran was batting .361 as late as May 17, but given what followed (i.e., a .195 batting average with no home runs in 25 games), you may have vowed never to be burned by him again. I must, however, inform you that he's at it again, batting .383 (23 for 60) with two home runs and six steals since the calendar flipped to July. Maybe it's time to recognize that rather than being the next superstar or a complete fakeout, he's just a pretty good player who tends to run hot and cold. There are things to like about his profile -- the stolen bases, the high line-drive rate, the tendency to bat leadoff against righties. His platoon status keeps him on the fringes of three-outfielder leagues, but not with the way he's performing now.
Seth Lugo SP
SD San Diego • #67 • Age: 34
In a season defined by disastrous outings for seemingly capable pitchers, a little stability would make for a welcome addition to any pitching staff. And there's reason to believe Lugo can provide it. It's not just that he has four quality starts in his past five, delivering a 2.97 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 9.5 K/9 during that stretch, but it's how he's done it. He needed just 84 pitches to make it through seven innings against the Pirates Wednesday, which gives you an idea of the sort of strike-thrower he is, having issued just 1.8 BB/9. Combine that with his above-average ground-ball rate, made possible by his downer curveball, and he's well equipped to limit damage. He was sidelined by a calf injury for a month-long stretch earlier this year, which is probably the only reason why he's as available as he is.
BOS Boston • #36 • Age: 23
Casas hit a 410-foot home run off Spencer Strider on Wednesday, but perhaps more impressive is that he reached base in all four of his plate appearances that game, twice on hits and twice on walks. He now has multiple hits in four of his past five games, homering three times during that stretch. His updated stats since April? A .296 batting average, 12 homers and .933 OPS, all while reaching base at a .389 clip. That's the kind of hitter he was advertised to be, and after a dreadful start to his rookie season, that's the kind of hitter he's been. The only thing preventing him from being universally added in Fantasy is that he sits against left-handers, but that seems destined to end sooner than later. The Red Sox have to know they have a potential star on their hands.
CHC Chi. Cubs • #73 • Age: 28
We've had reason to believe Alzolay is the Cubs closer since as far back as early June, but the team was so lacking in save chances that he had all of two saves for basically an entire calendar month. We needed more than that to confirm our suspicions, particularly given manager David Ross' past fickleness, and now we have it. Alzolay has seven saves in July and four in the Cubs' past five games. He appears to be good enough to hold onto the role, as the rest of his numbers show. There is the matter of how consistently the Cubs will provide him with save chances moving forward, particularly if they do a tear-down at the trade deadline, but even so, if you're looking for saves on the waiver wire right now, it's hard to imagine you're going to find a better source of them than Alzolay.
Will Benson LF
CIN Cincinnati • #30 • Age: 25
For all the talk of Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, one Reds call-up who hasn't gotten much attention is Benson. But at this point, the production speaks for itself. He arrived for good on May 21 and, from that point forward, has hit .318 (41 for 129) with seven homers, 10 steals and an incredible 1.022 OPS, made possible by a .425 on-base percentage. The guy knows how to take a walk, and when you add it to the rest of what he brings to the table, you can understand why the Reds keep finding at-bats for him even amid their roster crunch. In fact, he seems to be earning an even bigger share, having started against two of the last three left-handers they've faced. At the very least, Benson is looking like a Jake Fraley clone.
SF San Francisco • #37 • Age: 22
Fighting for a playoff spot and desperate for offense, the Giants have called up shortstop prospect Marco Luciano, who has been a fixture on top-100 lists from the time he was 17. Of course, his minor-league numbers have never quite lived up to his prospect standing, perhaps because of his inability to stay healthy. Meanwhile, he's still only 21 and played only six games at Triple-A before getting the call. He did come up at his hottest at least, batting .305 (36 for 118) with eight homers in his last 32 games, but it does seem like a rush job for a prospect whose minor-league career hasn't been smooth sailing. So why feature Luciano here? Upside is upside, and shortstop isn't the easiest position to fill off the waiver wire. If you have a need there, you'd be crazy not to scoop up the lottery ticket.
Matt Wallner LF
MIN Minnesota • #38 • Age: 25
Joey Gallo's career has veered so far off course that if I were to compare Wallner to him, it probably wouldn't impress you. But the 25-year-old indeed offers a similar profile: a lot of walks, way too many strikeouts, and big-time power. The last of those three has been most on display recently. He hit two home runs Wednesday to give him three in two games. All have been hit in excess of 105 mph. It's generally wise to bet against a player who strikes out as much as Wallner does -- we're talking nearly 30 percent over his minor-league career -- but he hits the ball with such authority that he may be able to overcome it, particularly if he can get on base at a nice clip. The Twins seem to be buying in finally, starting him in nine straight.