Nelson Cruz enjoyed a monster game on Monday against the Tigers, teeing off for a pair of homers (including a grand slam) and a double as part of a 3-for-6 day. Cruz, who finished with five RBIs and three runs, made the most of his first start of the season after opening the year on the bench while the Twins were visting Milwaukee. The 40-year-old seems to still have plenty of thump in his swing based on his awesome power display, which comes as no surprise on the heels of his .992 OPS in 2020 and 1.031 OPS in 2019. Cruz continues to mash and has shown no signs of slowing down, making him a top fantasy play whenever he's in the lineup.
Marcus Semien paced Toronto's 6-2 win over the Rangers on Monday, going 2-for-5 with a two-run homer. The long ball was Semien's second in his last three games, as he's alternated hitless performances with multi-hit efforts to open the season thus far. He's already swiped a pair of bases as well -- already half as many as he stole last year. Semien seems invigorated after signing with the Blue Jays in the offseason, and the change of scenery seems to be helping so far after sinking to .223/.305/.374 at the plate in 2020. Semien averaged 20 homers and 11 steals per season from 2015-19, but if he keeps up his current pace he could be looking at his first 20/20 season when it's all said and done.
Steven Matz dazzled in his Blue Jays debut on Monday, permitting just one run on two hits and one walk while striking out nine over 6 1/3 innings. The victory was Matz's first since 2019, as he struggled through a brutal 2020 that saw him go 0-5 with a 9.68 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP in his final season with the Mets. Matz was an above average pitcher prior to last year, however, and he showed it during his dominant performance on Monday. While transitioning to the American League isn't always easy for NL pitchers, Matz should be considered a strong rebound candidate this year, especially after setting a personal best with 10.6 K/9 last year. If he continues to miss bats at an elite rate, he could be headed for one of his best seasons yet.
Whit Merrifield continued his scorching start to the season with another homer on Monday, going 2-for-3 with three RBIs against the Indians. Merrifield accounted for all three of Kansas City's runs in their 3-0 victory over Cleveland, two of which came in the second inning on his third homer of the season. The 32-year-old is now 8-for-16 to start the season and continues to be one of baseball's most underappreciated stars. The three homers are a bit of a surprise, however, as he's more of a doubles and triples hitter, but it wouldn't be too surprising if a few more of those cleared the fence. Merrifield's career high in dingers is 19, so perhaps this will be the year he finally cracks 20.
Giancarlo Stanton broke out of his early season funk with a bang on Monday, crushing a 471-foot grand slam to fuel New York's 7-0 victory over Baltimore. Stanton, who had started the season 0-for-10, quieted the boo-birds at Yankee Stadium in the fifth inning with the longest MLB homer of the season thus far. Stanton probably has a good deal of rust to shake off after playing just 41 games in the last two seasons combined due to injuries, but he remains one of baseball's most dangerous sluggers whenever he's in the lineup. He's been feast or famine so far, however, with four strikeouts and no other hits yet, but he's always capable of heating up at a moment's notice.
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