Fantasy Forward: Nelson Cruz going nuclear of late

It’s easy to overlook the production by Nelson Cruz the last four seasons since he reached a new level in Baltimore in 2014, but he’s maintained it the last three years in Seattle. In fact, Cruz seems to be one of the more underrated power hitters in this time frame despite hitting 118 home runs and driving in 298 during his time with the Mariners in only 425 games with a .294 average and a .931 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Cruz finished last night 2-for-4 with his 31st home run, his second in two days, and reached 100 RBI for the third time in the last four seasons. He’s on a 11-game hit streak with five multiple hit games within it. Over his last 18 games, Cruz is hitting .418 with 11 home runs and 24 RBI. With a .295/.368/.563 slash line on the year plus 100 RBI in 118 games, it feels like Cruz should be in the MVP conversation, but one never seems to hear his name. At least those who targeted his consistent production in the third round realize Cruz’s value.

  • Rafael Devers, still hot

Terrorizing Yankees pitching and setting records seems to be the norm for Rafael Devers of late. With his home run on Saturday, Devers became the second player in Red Sox history to hit home runs in three straight games versus the Yankees prior to turning 21 since, Babe Ruth. Devers also entered the record books as the only player with eight or more home runs in his first 20 games prior to turning 21. Through 77 at-bats, Devers eight homers, 16 RBI, and two stolen bases with a .364 average and 1.151 OPS seems like a waiver wire hero or tremendous stash for those awaiting him in keeper leagues.

  • Trout doubles his home run pleasure in Baltimore

Mike Trout hit two home runs, his 25th and 26th, in a win over the Orioles on Saturday night. He has now hit 25 or more home runs six times prior to his Age-26 season joining Frank Robinson and Eddie Mathews as the only three to accomplish the feat. Trout’s also the only player in major league history with at least 150 home runs and stolen bases with a .400 or better on-base percentage during the first seven years of his career.

  • Shutout performances

Jose Berrios provided his fantasy owners a much-needed bounce back game firing seven shutout innings at home against the Diamondbacks. Berrios limited them to two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts. He only generated five swinging strikes of his 103 pitches, but did show promise for his outings going forward. Especially with the Twins chasing a playoff berth.

Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer admitted not knowing how he did so well on Saturday without his best stuff, but worked 6.1 shutout innings giving up seven hits and two walks with four strikeouts en route to his 12th win. Over his last five starts, Bauer has struck out 37 against seven walks in 35 innings with a 1.54 ERA.

Collin McHugh turned in a second solid performance after his meltdown of seven runs allowed to the White Sox with six shutout innings at home against the A’s. McHugh recorded his first win of the season yielding six hits and one walk with three strikeouts. He will be needed by both fantasy owners who added him along with the Astros in their chase for the best record in the American League.

  • Abreu is who we thought he was

It’s been a tumultuous season for Jose Abreu in terms of fantasy production and his season playing for the White Sox. But through it all, he’s back on track. Abreu went 4-for-5 last night only needing a double for the cycle. He hit his 24th home run and scored three times before leaving for a pinch-runner in a blowout loss. With the four hits, Abreu raised his average to .301 on the season and entered the game with the third best batting average against left-handed pitching in the American League.

Abreu is also on an eight-game hit streak with six multiple hit games within it going 15 for his last 35 (.429) with eight runs, five home runs and eight RBI.

  • Scooter’s grand again

After a tremendous first half, Scooter Gennett’s struggled to maintain the momentum after the All-Star break. But, he launched his third grand slam of the season to become the seventh Reds player to do so in a season and first since Devin Mesoraco in 2014. Gennett has been streaky, so this could spark him to a strong finish. It seemed harmless when Cincinnati picked him up after being released by Milwaukee during spring training. But, Gennett’s responded with 21 home runs and 75 RBI this year with a .292 average. Here’s to seeing how he will finish the year, but for fantasy owners and the Reds, Gennett’s already returned profit on investment.

  • Bullpen musings

One day after maintaining Aroldis Chapman is his closer, Joe Girardi announced on Saturday Chapman would be used in any inning going forward until he gets himself right. This opens the door for a match-ups based approach,but Girardi may have shown his hand. David Robertson worked the last out of the seventh and the eighth inning with Dellin Betances notching his ninth save with a clean inning and two strikeouts.

Greg Holland took the loss in Colorado giving up three earned runs on two hits and a walk with a strikeout in his two-thirds of an inning. It’s his fourth loss of the season which will be tolerated due to his 35 saves, but Holland has allowed multiple earned runs in three of his last five outings. There’s no closer controversy with the Rockies, but keep tabs on Holland’s regression as the year comes to a close.

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Greg Jewett

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I am a father, PE teacher & fantasy baseball writer. Using saber metrics & information to evaluate players & trends is exciting to me."Passion is the oxygen of the soul." Bill Butler