MLB Today: Nelson Cruz Blows Up to Help Texas Snap Slump
Chris Davis has looked sharp in the Baltimore Orioles lineup.
The Texas Rangers haven’t had much go wrong for them so far this season.
However, they had dropped six of their past 10 games heading into a weekend series at home against Toronto. Of course, with Oakland playing even worse lately, the Rangers had actually managed to extend their lead in the AL West despite the mini slump.
Like we said, not much has gone wrong in Arlington.
On Friday, Nelson Cruz went hog wild, going 4-for-5 with a grand slam, a three-run double and an RBI single for his second career eight-RBI night as Texas manhandled the Blue Jays 14-3.
The sixth eight-RBI game in Rangers’ history provided more than enough for Texas to cruise to an easy win.
We all know Cruz is a streaky hitter, and after a sluggish start to 2012, he may be getting ready to go on one of his patented rolls. He’s now driven in 19 runs with three homers over his last 17 games. Yes, much of that damage was done Friday, but Cruz is definitely starting to take it up a notch.
Friday’s showing was a welcome sight for Cruz owners that had to deal with him complaining about quad tightness just last weekend. We know, we know… a Cruz leg injury seems like such a random occurrence.
This dude is as injury prone as they come, but he’s actually been healthy so far this season.
That’s why our advice is to sell high if the free-swinging Cruz begins to roll, because you know a DL stint is just around the corner.
He’s played in 45 of the Rangers’ 46 games, which puts him on pace for 158 games. We’re talking about someone that has never played as many as 130 games before.
- Let’s give some love to Baltimore’s Chris Davis, one of the players who has exceeded expectations, helping the O’s to the best record in the AL. We ranked Davis among the Top 45 at third base, but given his performance and how shallow the position is, he’s been nearly good enough to be a starter in standard leagues. No, Davis hasn’t played a single game at the hot corner this season, but his 3B qualification makes him a fine asset. So why is he still available in nearly half the leagues playing at ESPN? Davis homered and drove in three runs Friday, giving him four RBI in the past two games and 20 for the season – his highest total since 2009, and we’re still in May. He’s hitting for average for once and – with that coveted 3B eligibility – needs to be scooped up if he’s still available in your league.
- Need pitching help? It’s time to grab A.J. Burnett, who tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings Friday for his fourth straight start of two earned runs or less. We recommended him in late-April, but he wound up on plenty of wires after getting bitch-slapped by St. Louis in his first May start. However, Burnett has really turned things around the remainder of the month, giving up just 23 hits, six runs, six walks and two homers while fanning 22 in 27 1/3 IP. Okay, so shutout ball against the woeful Cubs is no great feat, but Burnett’s trimmed his ERA enough to be considered more than just a spot-starter now. Go ahead and pick him up in all formats.
- Todd Helton, who has been hitting the wire en masse lately, has finally shown some life. He went yard Friday for the first time in almost a month, part of a three-RBI night, and his second straight multi-hit game. The mini streak has lifted Helton’s BA 16 points, but it’s still below .230. We expected Helton to be a Top 40 first baseman this year and he’s actually been among the top 30, mostly because he’s seen more PT than anticipated and has been fairly productive (25 RBI in 36 games). Even at age 38, Helton’s BA should bounce back over the course of the season, making him someone to consider stashing in NL-only leagues or deeper mixed formats.
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