Rafael Furcal is scorching hot for the Cardinals

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St. Louis got swept by at home by the Braves over the weekend, but it certainly wasn’t the shortstop’s fault. Rafael Furcal went 7-for-11 with two walks against his original team and is a ridiculous 15-for-21 over his last five games.

The stretch has him batting .383/.447/.519 for the season. Baseball-reference’s WAR rates him the game’s second most valuable offensive player so far behind Josh Hamilton and ahead of Matt Kemp.

All of this comes from a guy who looked pretty much done last October. He followed up a weak .231/.298/.348 regular season by hitting .195/.244/.325 in 18 games during the postseason. He also struggled so much this spring that the Cardinals started hitting him at the bottom of the order in the second half of March to see if anyone else could step up and claim the leadoff spot.

No one did, of course, and now Furcal has been a terror through one-fifth of the regular season.  He’s walked more than he’s struck out (15-14), and he’s seven for eight stealing bases, putting him on pace for his best season in that department since 2006.  With another big game tonight, he’d become the first player this season to have multiple hits in six straight contests.

Report: Twins, Michael Pineda agree to two-year, $20 million contract

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Pierre Noujaim of Fox9 Minneapolis reports that the Twins and free agent starter Michael Pineda have agreed on a two-year contract. The Athletic’s Dan Hayes confirms Noujaim’s report and adds that the deal is for $20 million.

Pineda, 30, signed with the Twins in December 2017 while he was in the process of recovering from Tommy John surgery. He missed the entire 2018 season but began the 2019 season on time. Pineda went on to post a 4.01 ERA with 140 strikeouts and 28 walks across 146 innings. He was suspended 60 games in early September after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. There are 39 games remaining, so he won’t make his season debut next year until mid-May.

Pineda will rejoin a Twins rotation that features José Berríos and Jake Odorizzi. The Twins are likely not done hunting for rotation help.