By: James Sargent
Dustin Pedroia: And the beat goes on for Dustin Pedroia, who’s been destroying the ball during a 10-game hitting streak. Last week, Pedroia went 12-for-23 with five RBIs and four stolen bases. His average has boosted from .248 to .284 and it looks like there is no slowing down for him. The interleague play has really given him a revitalized approach to his game and he will continue to sizzle all the way into the All Star break.
Justin Smoak: Justin Smoak has been struggling with his bat all season, but last week was definitely a wake-up call for the powerful rookie. He belted two home runs, scored five runs and drove in eight while batting .320. The switch-hitting first baseman, who has been compared to Mark Teixeira, can flat out rake, and last week was an indication to the potential that this kid has. Be patient; give him time, and soon enough the wait for this young hitter will be worth it.
Manny Ramirez: Manny Ramirez is starting to heat up after an underwhelming first two months, so get him in your lineup now. Last week, Ramirez hit three home runs, scored seven runs and drove in six RBIs. He also had a stolen base, which was his first since 2008, so don’t get used to any speed from the 38-year-old outfielder. Ramirez looked dialed in against his former team, the Boston Red Sox, and he even went blast off against them. As I said before, put Man-Ram in your lineup and watch as he produces for your club.
Michael Bourn: After getting off to such a hot start for the first two months, Michael Bourn has really cooled off in June. Last week, Bourn only had two hits and scored just one run. The baseball season is quite a grind, and many players battle hot streaks and cold spells and this just happens to be Bourn’s cold spell. Once Bourn starts swinging a hot bat, his stolen bases will increase at a consistent rate again and he will be back into his normal groove.
Ryan Zimmerman: Ryan Zimmerman had a week to say the least, as the National’s third baseman only recorded two hits and one RBI. As with Bourn, Zimmerman is in the midst of a cold spell and will surely come out of it soon. Owners should be patient with the All-Star slugger who is likely to go on a prolonged tear once he busts out of the skid.
Jorge Cantu: Jorge Cantu was held hitless in 17 at bats last week and did not contribute a single thing to any of his fantasy owners. His batting average has now dropped to .268 and because of his no-hit week, he was held out of Sunday’s contest to reevaluate what he’s doing wrong. With two days off because of an off day on Monday, Cantu will hopefully have his stroke back that has produced him a very good 2010 season to date.
Jered Weaver: Jered Weaver pitched seven stellar innings against the Chicago Cubs to net himself his seventh victory on the season. He yielded only two hits and struck out 11 without issuing a walk. He is leading the MLB in strikeouts and his ERA is now down to 3.04. Weaver has made five quality starts in his last six outings and will look to continue to pitch lights out up until the All Star break.
Cliff Lee: The 2008 AL CY Young Award winner had his stuff going all game against the Cincinnati Reds. Cliff Lee threw a complete game, six-hitter and also struck out seven. This game lowered Lee’s ERA to 2.55 on the year and it was his 16th career complete game. Lee could get swapped again close to the trade deadline, and the Texas Rangers will definitely be willing to pick him up in exchange for prospects. Wherever Lee ends up, his dominate pitching will surely be present.
Jose Valverde: Jose Valverde is having an absolutely brilliant season to say the least. Last week wasn’t much different for the Tigers’ closer as he recorded three saves and did not allow a run in the three innings he worked. Valverde now has 16 saves on the year and is tied for fourth in the American League. His ERA on the season is an outstanding 0.59 while only giving up two earned runs all season long. “Papa Grande” is having a ridiculous season and will look to be apart of the 2010 AL All Star team come mid-July.
Brian Fuentes: Brian Fuentes had not pitched all week, and when called upon Sunday he only managed to get through two-thirds of an inning. He gave up three earned runs on four hits in a non-save situation. I believe Fuentes struggled because his mental state was not in “save mode.” Closers tend to pump themselves up when brought on to save the game, and with this not being an opportunity, Fuentes wasn’t as excited as most closers usually get. Although, this is still a bad outing and Fuentes owners should be a little concerned.
Kevin Slowey: Kevin Slowey gave up a season-high seven runs in one and two-thirds innings. This is now consecutive bad starts for Slowey who on the week had a 37.80 ERA and 4.80 WHIP. Slowey’s next start will most likely be against the New York Mets, and we’ll see what kind of tricks he has up his sleeves to avoid a third consecutive beating.
Chad Qualls: Goodbye, Chad Qualls, and hello, Aaron Heilman! The Arizona Diamondbacks moved Qualls from the closer role to the setup role and moved setup man Heilman to the closer role. Qualls has been awful on the season, and last week was no help. He pitched only one inning and gave up two earned runs on three hits and a walk. Qualls has also blown four save chances on the year, and with the season he is having, closing games and a possible trade out of Arizona does not look like it might be in the books. If Qualls is still on you team, drop him and don’t look back.