MLB Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Pair of sluggers bringing Cuban heat

(Clockwise from top left) Kansas City's Yordano Ventura, St. Louis' Adam Wainwright, Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig and Chicago White Sox's Jose Abreu are this week's hottest pitchers and hitters.

USA TODAY Sports

Stats through May 1

HOT PITCHERS

AL — Yordano Ventura, Kansas City Royals

The hard-throwing right-hander leads the American League with a 1.50 ERA in five starts. He had a career-high eight strikeouts in eight innings during a victory over the Baltimore Orioles on April 25 (it was the eighth career start for the 22 year-old Dominican). He’s 2-1 with 31 strikeouts, and he has had two starts in which he has allowed just two hits.

NL — Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

The steady right-hander has become one of baseball’s best through the first full month of play. He’s tied with Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Zack Greinke and Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle for a major-league-high five victories. Wainwright is second in the majors with a 1.20 ERA behind the 1.15 for Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto. The Cards ace produced victories in each of his four starts from April 12-27. Overall, he’s 5-1 this season, and he has lasted at least seven innings in each of his six appearances.

HOT HITTERS

AROUND THE HORN

AL — Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox

Abreu hit .360 (9 for 25) with three home runs and 11 RBI in six games from April 25-30. He was stellar in a victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on April 25, when he went 3 for 5 with two home runs, including a walk-off grand slam, and six RBI. Overall, he has hit .270 with a major-league-high 10 home runs and 32 RBI this season. He hit safely in 10 of 12 games from April 19-30.

NL — Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers

Puig hit .462 (12 for 26) with one home run and seven RBI in six games from April 25-May 1. The span, in which he hit safely in all but one game, included a 4-for-4 performance with two RBI in the first game of a doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins on May 1. He also produced at least two hits in each of those contests. In April he hit . 284 with three home runs and 13 RBI. Overall, he has hit .309 with three home runs and 17 RBI this season.

HOT TEAMS

AL — Oakland Athletics

The Athletics completed a three-game sweep of the Texas Rangers from April 28-30 and are 5-2 with one series left on a 10-game road trip that concludes in Boston. Oakland outscored Texas 25-4 during the sweep in Arlington. At 18-10, The A’s own the most victories in the American League. Their 148 runs rank third in the AL, and their 2.78 staff ERA is second in the majors behind the Atlanta Braves’ 2.69.

NL — San Francisco Giants

The Giants won five of six games from April 25-30, the lone loss a 6-4 defeat to the San Diego Padres on April 28. Extending the run, the Giants won six of seven games since April 23 after losing five of six from April 17-22. Their defense was sharp in holding opponents to two or fewer runs four times from April 25-30. At 17-11, they own a half-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.

(Clockwise from top left) New York Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda, San Diego’s Robbie Erlin, Milwaukee’s Aramis Ramirez and Texas’ Elvis Andrus are this week’s featured cold pitchers and hitters.

COLD PITCHERS

AL — Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees

Kuroda allowed a combined 12 runs (nine earned) and 17 hits in starts against the Los Angeles Angels on April 25 and Seattle Mariners on May 1. He lasted a season-worst 4 2/3 innings against the Angels, who became the first team to earn 10 or more hits against him since Aug. 17, 2013. Overall, the right-hander is 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA and 25 strikeouts in six starts

NL — Robbie Erlin, San Diego Padres

Erlin allowed a combined 11 runs and 21 hits in starts against the Washington Nationals on April 25 and San Francisco Giants on April 30. He surrendered a season-high eight runs and 13 hits in 5 1/3 innings against the Nationals. The poor outings were part of a slide that included four consecutive losses from April 15-30. Overall, the left-hander is 1-4 with a 5.83 ERA.

COLD HITTERS

AL — Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers

Andrus hit .050 (1 for 20) with two strikeouts in six games from April 25-30. The stretch is part of a slide in which he went hitless in six of seven games from April 23-30. Overall, he has hit .229 with one home run and six RBI this season. He last had two hits in one game on April 15 against the Seattle Mariners.

NL — Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers

Ramirez went 0 for 15 in five games from April 25-May 1. The slide is part of a seven-game hitless stretch from April 22-May 1. On April 28, he left a game early against the St. Louis Cardinals with a bruised left elbow, but he returned to the lineup May 1 after missing two games. In April, he hit .264 with three home runs and 17 RBI. Overall, he’s hitting .265 with three homers and 19 RBI.

COLD TEAMS

AL — Cleveland Indians

The Indians dropped six consecutive games from April 25-30, losing in three-game sweeps at the San Francisco Giants and at the Los Angeles Angels. Cleveland is last in the AL Central with an 11-17 record, and the 11 victories are the second-fewest in the AL behind the Houston Astros’ nine. The Indians have struggled offensively. Their 106 runs rank 12th in the AL, ahead of only the Detroit Tigers (104), Seattle Mariners (101) and Astros (88).

NL — Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates lost four of five games from April 25-May 1, including each contest of a doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on May 1. Pittsburgh hasn’t won consecutive games since claiming two in a row against the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs on April 6 and April 8, respectively. The Pirates lost 16 of 21 games from April 9-May 1. A major reason why they’re fourth in the NL Central with a 10-18 record is simple: They rank 25th in the majors with 102 runs scored.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Oakland outfielder Josh Reddick is proof: Baseball players spend time at the office on off days. The Athletics arrived in Boston early before beginning a three-game series against the Red Sox on May 2. Reddick used some of his free hours to do some advanced scouting at the first game of a May 1 doubleheader between Boston and Tampa Bay at Fenway Park. And hey, picking up a Dustin Pedroia bobblehead along the way wasn’t a bad perk either. The Athletics hope the extra observation pays off.

You can follow Andrew Astleford on Twitter @aastleford or email him at aastleford@gmail.com.