Here Is Addison Russell's First Career Homer

Posted by Matt Clapp | 5/01/2015 01:18:00 PM | ,

The first of many homers coming for the 21-year-old Addison Russell in the majors, folks.

Get The Latest Blogfines Updates By Following Us On Twitter.



Who: Chicago Cubs (12-7) vs Pittsburgh Pirates (11-10)
When: Wednesday, April 29, 7:05 PM CT
Where: Wrigley Field

TV: CSN
Game Time Forecast: 47 Degrees, Partly Cloudy
Line: Pirates -113 Over/Under- 7 Total Runs

The Cubs are rolling, with four straight wins and a 12-7 record, sitting one game behind the Cardinals for the National League Central lead as we approach the end of April. Tonight at Wrigley, the Cubs go for a big three-game sweep of the Pirates, a team that figures to be right there with the Cubs in the thick of the NL Central and Wild Card race all year.

Here's some more info to get you ready for the game...

Lineups

Cubs:
1. Dexter Fowler, CF (.288 AVG, 1 HR, .804 OPS)
2. Jorge Soler, RF (.260 AVG, 2 HR, .749 OPS)
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B (.323 AVG, 2 HR, .954 OPS)
4. Kris Bryant, 3B (.341 AVG, 0 HR, .910 OPS)
5. Miguel Montero, C (.214 AVG, 3 HR, .752 OPS)
6. Starlin Castro, SS (.342 AVG, 2 HR, .796 OPS)
7. Chris Coghlan, LF (.241 AVG, 3 HR, .787 OPS)
8. Kyle Hendricks, P (.173 AVG, 0 HR, .286 OPS)
9. Jonathan Herrera, 2B (.226 AVG, 0 HR, .540 OPS)

Pirates:
1. Gregory Polanco, RF (.284 AVG, 1 HR, .722 OPS)
2. Jordy Mercer, SS (.179 AVG, 0 HR, .444 OPS)
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF (.179 AVG, 2 HR, .595 OPS)
4. Neil Walker, 2B (.286 AVG, 1 HR, .746 OPS)
5. Starling Marte, LF (.243 AVG, 6 HR, .752 OPS)
6. Pedro Alvarez, 1B (.226 AVG, 4 HR, .720 OPS)
7. Jung Ho Kang, 3B (.182 AVG, 0 HR, .436 OPS)
8. Chris Stewart, C (.214 AVG, 0 HR, .414 OPS)
9. Gerrit Cole, P (.111 AVG, 0 HR, .311 OPS)

Starting Pitchers 

Cubs: Kyle Hendricks  (5.74 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 0.2 fWAR, 15 2/3 IP)

Pirates: Gerrit Cole (2.19 ERA, 2,33 FIP, 0.7 fWAR, 24 2/3 IP)

Cubs vs Cole

Welington Castillo: 4-11 (.364 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 2 K, 1.167 OPS

Starlin Castro: 5-9 (.556 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, 1.156 OPS.

Chris Coghlan 2-5 (.400 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 0 K, .900 OPS

Chris Denorfia: 3-5 (.600 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 0 K, 1.467 OPS.

Dexter Fowler: 0-2, 1 BB, 1 K

Junior Lake: 0-5, 1 BB, 2 K

Anthony Rizzo: 2-7 (.286 AVG), 0 HR, 2 BB, 3 K, .873 OPS

Pirates vs Hammel

Pedro Alvarez: 3-17 (.176 AVG), 2 HR, 1 BB, 3 K, .869 OPS.

Francisco Cervelli: 2-3 (.667 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 0 K, 1.333 OPS.

Josh Harrison: 1-4 (.250 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 2 K, .750 OPS.

Corey Hart: 1-9 (.111 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 3 K, .222 OPS.

Starling Marte: 2-9 (.222 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 3 K, .444 OPS.

Andrew McCutchen: 6-20 (.300 AVG), 2 HR, 1 BB, 4 K, .983 OPS.

Jordy Mercer: 3-10 (.300 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 2 K, .700 OPS

Gregory Polanco 1-6 (.167 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 0 K, .333 OPS

Chris Stewart: 2-4 (.500 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, 1.100 OPS

Neil Walker: 2-9 (.222 AVG), 0 HR, 2 BB, 1 K, .639 OPS.

Who's Hot

Dexter Fowler is looking like a tremendous acquisition for the Cubs. The veteran center fielder is hitting .288 with a .366 obp, setting the tone at the top of the lineup. He has a five-game hitting streak, and has reached base three times in each of the first two games of this series. He's also stolen a base in each of the two games and has six stolen bases on the year.

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte homered on Tuesday night, and is now 6-for-16 with three homers against the Cubs in 2015.

Who's Not

Jorge Soler is 2-for-22 with 13 strikeouts over his last seven games. He's shown some progress with his plate discipline over the last few days, however, and his plate discipline was one of his biggest visible strengths before this rough stretch. These things happen with young players, so let's give it some more time before we're too .

The struggles of Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen continue, with his batting average at .179 and OPS at .595. This slump isn't going to last much longer and the Cubs should be very thankful they've played a couple series vs the Pirates without the real McCutchen facing them. He can carry them on his hot streaks.

This & That
Finally that's over and no surprise whatsoever.
Great news on Justin Grimm who would be a really nice boost for the Cubs' bullpen. Hopefully he can return to game action for the Cubs in the next couple of weeks.
It appears Tommy La Stella is a still a few weeks away, so Addison Russell will continue to be the primary second baseman for a bit.

Get The Latest Blogfines Updates By Following Us On Twitter.



Around The Web

The First 10 Percent: An Early Look At The Cubs In A Small Sample Size- (Luis Medina; Bleacher Nation)

Cubs Not Afraid To Celebrate Fast Start- (Bruce Levine; 670 The Score)

Overshadowed, Stigmatized Starlin Castro Off To Big Start For Cubs- (Matt Snyder; Eye On Baseball)

Starlin Castro's Pursuit Of 1,000 Hits Puts Him In Elite Company- (Evan Altman; Cubs Insider)

Kris Bryant Effect, Addison Russell Watch, & Javier Baez's Future- (Paul Sullivan; Chicago Tribune)

Javy Baez Back In Action At Extended Spring Training- (Arizona Phil; The Cub Reporter)

Cubs Key To Success So Far This Season: Controlling The Strike Zone- (John Arguello; Cubs Den)

Joe Maddon Preaching Patience For Jorge Soler- (Patrick Mooney; CSN Chicago)

Jorge Soler Warms Up In The Cold- (Jesse Rogers; ESPN Chicago)

The 2015 Ballad Of Jon Lester: Start No. 4- (Andrew Felper; BP Wrigleyville)

Jon Lester's Breakout Date Revealed- (Evan Altman; Cubs Insider)

Albert Almora Placed On The 7-Day DL For Smokies (@SmokiesOnRadio)

Jason McLeod Talks Cubs, Prospects, & The Draft On MLB Network Radio- (Neil; Chicago Cubs Online)

Cards Look At How To Fill Wainwright Void- (Derrick Goold; St. Louis Dispatch)

Reds' Homer Bailey 'Won't Be Pitching In The Near Future' As Elbow Woes Continue- (Israel Fehr; Big League Stew)

White Sox-Orioles Will Be The First One Ever Played Without A Crowd- (David Just; Chicago Sun-Times)


Tweet Of The Day

Video Of The Day




Get The Latest Blogfines Updates By Following Us On Twitter.



Who: Chicago Cubs (8-5) vs Pittsburgh Pirates (6-8)
When: Wednesday, April 22, 6:05 PM CT
Where: PNC Park; Pittsburgh, PA

TV: CSN
Game Time Forecast: 45 Degrees, Chance Of Rain
Line: Pirates -111; Over/Under- 7.5 Total Runs

The Cubs had another dramatic come-from-behind win on Tuesday night, stunning the Pirates by the score of 9-8 at PNC Park. Down 8-5, the Cubs scored one run in the eighth on a Welington Castillo solo homer, and added three more runs in the ninth inning off Pirates closer Mark Melancon.

It was a great showing of the new offense the Cubs have, and particularly how dangerous their middle of the order now is. Oh, and it all overshadowed the debut of top prospect Addison Russell, who batted ninth and started at second base.

Up 2-0 in a key series against the NL Central rival Pirates, the Cubs now get a chance to already win the four-game series on game three Wednesday night. Here's more fun stuff to get ready for the game...

Lineups

Cubs:
1. Dexter Fowler, CF (.232 AVG, 1 HR, .728 OPS)
2. Jorge Soler, RF (.327 AVG, 2 HR, .894 OPS)
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B (.302 AVG, 1 HR, .870 OPS)
4. Kris Bryant, 3B (.444 AVG, 0 HR, 1.194 OPS)
5. Starlin Castro, SS (.352 AVG, 2 HR, .856 OPS)
6. Miguel Montero, C (.172 AVG, 2 HR, .711 OPS)
7. Chris Coghlan, LF (.231 AVG, 2 HR, .764 OPS)
8. Jason Hammel, P (.500 (3-6), 0 HR, 1.167 OPS)
9. Addison Russell, 2B (0-5, .000 OPS)

Pirates:
1. Josh Harrison, 3B (.212 AVG, 2 HR, .633 OPS)
2. Gregory Polanco, RF (.250 AVG, 0 HR, .605 OPS)
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF (.222 AVG, 2 HR, .745 OPS)
4. Neil Walker, 2B (.240 AVG, 1 HR, .658 OPS)
5. Starling Marte, LF (.208 AVG, 5 HR, .792 OPS)
6. Pedro Alvarez, 1B (.227 AVG, 4 HR, .799 OPS)
7. Francisco Cervelli, C (.306 AVG, 0 HR, .736 OPS)
8. Jung Ho Kang, SS (.176 AVG, 0 HR, .458 OPS)
9. Vance Worley, P (0-4, .000 OPS)

Starting Pitchers 

Cubs: Jason Hammel (5.11 ERA, 3.64 FIP, 0.2 fWAR, 12 1/3 IP)

Pirates: Vance Worley (5.84 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 0.1 fWAR, 12/13 IP)

Cubs vs Worley

Starlin Castro: 1-8 (.125 AVG), 0 HR, 2 BB, 6 K, .425 OPS.

Chris Coghlan: 1-4 (.250 AVG), 0 HR, 3 BB, 0 K, .821 OPS.

Chris Denorfia: 0-3, 0 BB, 2 K, .000 OPS.

Dexter Fowler: 2-7 (.286 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 2 K, .571 OPS.

Jonathan Herrera: 1-1, 0 BB, 2.000 OPS.

Miguel Montero: 1-9 (.111 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, .311 OPS.

Anthony Rizzo: 1-3 (.333 AVG), 1 HR, 0 BB, 1 K, 1.667 OPS.

Jorge Soler: 0-2, 0 BB, 2 K, .000 OPS

Pirates vs Hammel

Pedro Alvarez: 3-17 (.176 AVG), 2 HR, 1 BB, 3 K, .869 OPS.

Francisco Cervelli: 2-3 (.667 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 0 K, 1.333 OPS.

Josh Harrison: 1-4 (.250 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 2 K, .750 OPS.

Corey Hart: 1-9 (.111 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 3 K, .222 OPS.

Starling Marte: 2-9 (.222 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 3 K, .444 OPS.

Andrew McCutchen: 6-20 (.300 AVG), 2 HR, 1 BB, 4 K, .983 OPS.

Jordy Mercer: 3-10 (.300 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 2 K, .700 OPS

Gregory Polanco 1-6 (.167 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 0 K, .333 OPS

Chris Stewart: 2-4 (.500 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, 1.100 OPS

Neil Walker: 2-9 (.222 AVG), 0 HR, 2 BB, 1 K, .639 OPS.

Who's Hot

After an 0-4 major league debut that included three strikeouts, Kris Bryant has gone 8-for-14 at the dish, with five walks, and just one strikeout. In this Pittsburgh series, Bryant is 5-for-8, with five RBI, two walks, two doubles off the wall, and no strikeouts.

Pirates outfielder Starling Marte has homered in each of the first two games of the series, and now has five homers on the season.

Who's Not

The Cubs roughed up Pirates closer Mark Melancon on Tuesday night, scoring three runs off three hits and two walks. Melancon had a 1.39 ERA in 2013, and 1.70 ERA in 2014, but now has an 8.53 ERA (6 ER in 6 1/3 IP) to start out the 2015 campaign. It's showing up in more than the statistics, too. Melancon's average fastball velocity is down to 88.0 MPH, after being 92.8 last year. And his average cutter velocity (his cutter is his main pitch) is down from 91.6 to 88.9. So, the Pirates may want to look deeper into that and make sure Melancon is healthy before trotting him out there again in the ninth inning.

Brian Schlitter... sigh. Hopefully Joe is done trotting Schlitter out there in meaningful situations, but he hasn't so far this year. I tweeted this last night when Schlitter entered the game:
Schlitter proceeded to allow three earned runs in 2/3 of an inning, blowing the Cubs' 4-2 lead, and denying Travis Wood of a win. Teams figured out after the first half last season that Schlitter basically throws one pitch (a hard sinker), and he will throw it over the middle of the plate even when he's ahead in the count. It's understandable the Cubs called up Schlitter with the injuries to Neil Ramirez and Justin Grimm, but he should only be at the bottom of the bullpen pecking order right now if he's going to be on the roster. Edwin Jackson (who has thrown five scoreless innings and has had a velocity increase out of the bullpen) deserves more important chances than Schlitter at the moment.

This & That

Kris Bryant is still waiting for his first career homer, and came close a few times in this series. It will happen very soon... maybe tonight?

And Addison Russell went 0-for-5 in his debut, so he's still looking for his first hit. We are going to see a lot of firsts in the next week between these two players.

Relatable Tweets

Miguel Montero's Twitter account is gold.


Relatable Video

The most amazing part of Tuesday night's win was this double Kris Bryant hit 375 feet off the right field wall, on an inside pitch.


Just incredible, and a great showcase of Bryant's incredible power and talent. Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan even wrote a whole article reacting to this at-bat and its awesomeness. Give it a read. 

Get The Latest Blogfines Updates By Following Us On FacebookTwitter.



Well what do we have here, folks? Oh just another top-3 prospect in baseball joining the Chicago Cubs in less than a week. No biggie.

On Friday it was Kris Bryant making major league debut, and Tuesday night, Addison Russell will do the same thing for the Cubs after it was announced late Monday night that the middle infielder had been called up to the bigs from Triple-A Iowa.

Russell will play second base and bat ninth for the Cubs on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.

Russell, 21, came into this season rated as a top-5 prospect in baseball by most every publication, including No. 3 by Baseball America, and even No. 2 by Baseball Prospectus. And Baseball Prospectus even ranked Russell ahead of Bryant and Jorge Soler:




Whether you agree with that assessment or not, the fact it can even be debated says a lot about how highly Russell is thought of.

You surely remember that the Cubs acquired Russell, minor league outfielder Billy McKinney (also a top-100 prospect), and pitcher Dan Straily from the Oakland Athletics last Fourth of July, for pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The Cubs have since of course signed Jason Hammel again, and the A's ended up trading Samardzija in the offseason to the Chicago White Sox. So, it's pretty easy to see who won this Cubs/A's trade now isn't it?

It was clear to most evaluators which team won the trade when it happened, too. One such example would be Chris Crawford, currently with Baseball Prospectus (and at the time of this tweet, a baseball writer for ESPN):
Now, keep in mind the A's were trying to win a World Series and adding Samardzija and Hammel gave them a better chance at that. Billy Beane knew he had a great chance at a title and took it, even getting out of his comfort zone a bit with what he had to give up in cheap, young talent, to make the team a better title contender. But, make no mistake, Beane was well aware of how good Russell is, and apparently even told Theo Epstein when the two sides agreed to the trade, "You got Barry Larkin (in reference to Russell)":


Source: Peter Gammons

What makes Russell so highly regarded? Well, pretty much everything. He's solid in most every facet of the game, and has an advanced feel for the game.  He's so smooth, both offensively and defensively. Watching him play, you'd never guess he's a 21-year-old with just 11 games at the Triple-A level under his belt. He really looks like a veteran out there.

Russell has a bat with 12-20 homer power, is a career .300 (exactly) hitter in the minors, has a career .376 on-base percentage and .897 OPS in the minors, and is a very good shortstop. Add all of these things up, and you can see how the Barry Larkin and Derek Jeter comparisons make sense.

Peter Gammons tweeted this in Spring Training, and I think it's a perfect way to describe the well-rounded, advanced, steady Russell:

Most evaluators think Russell may already be a better shortstop than Starlin Castro, but Castro is playing tremendously for the Cubs right now, and the Cubs aren't going to mess with Starlin's position in the middle of the season. We can save a shortstop debate for the offseason.

For now, Russell will play next to Castro at second base, after getting just four games of work there in the minors. We saw Javier Baez make the shortstop-to-second base transition rather seamlessly last season, and one would expect the transition to be no different for Russell.

Whatever the case, even if there were to be some hiccups at second base, Russell will be a large upgrade over what the Cubs were getting at the position from Jonathan Herrera and Arismendy Alcantara through 12 games.

The Cubs could've let Russell get some more Triple-A time, especially to get some reps at second base before having to do it at the major league level, but they are aware he is extremely advanced and gives them a better chance to win right now. And the last part says it all: The Cubs see an opportunity to legitimately compete right now, and they are going to try to do just that.

We are finally seeing the Theo Epstein Cubs and the beginning of what should be a long, long competitive run in Chicago. And the rest of the league knows it.

Let's go to the links for some more Russell material...

Joe Maddon: 'Addison Russell Is Up To Here To Play 2B', Will Likely Bat 9th- (670 The Score)

With Arrival Of Russell, Cubs Continue To Accelerate Towards Competing- (Sahadev Sharma; BP Wrigleyville)

Addison Russell Is Here, And The Cubs Are Going For It- (Tom Ley; Deadspin)

What Do Callups Of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell Say About 2015 Cubs? (Randy Holt; The Outside Corner)

Russell Promotion Continues Cubs' Roster Transformation- (J.J. Cooper; Baseball America)

Addison Russell Is Here, And The Cubs' Super-Infield Is Real- Sorry, Mets fans, but your own local baseball writer is breaking you the news. (Joel Sherman; New York Post)

The Win-Now Move Of Promoting Addison Russell- (Dave Cameron; Fangraphs)



Get The Latest Blogfines Updates By Following Us On Twitter.



Who: Chicago Cubs (6-5) vs Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6)
When: Monday, April 20, 6:05 PM CT
Where: PNC Park; Pittsburgh, PA

TV: CSN+
Game Time Forecast: 61 Degrees, Chance Of Rain
Line: Pirates -109; Over/Under- 7.0

The Cubs and Pirates meet for the first time of the 2015 season on Monday night at PNC Park, in what will be a nice look at two of the teams that expect to make noise in the NL Central this year.

They're also two teams loaded with some of the sport's best young talent. That of course includes the Cubs' Kris Bryant, who will be playing in his first road game at the big league level on Monday. Bryant is still looking for his first home run after being called up to the majors on Friday, so perhaps a memorable moment is ahead at PNC Park.

But, while Bryant will be the media's main focus, both of these teams are much more focused on trying to at least get a split in this four-game series, as those wins and losses could be a huge deal down the road in the NL Central race, and in the race for the NL's two Wild Cards spots.

Let's get a look at the lineups, pitchers, and other storylines to keep an eye on going into Monday night's game...

Lineups

Cubs:
1. Dexter Fowler, CF (.271 AVG, 1 HR, .819 OPS)
2. Jorge Soler, RF (.267 AVG, 2 HR, .787 OPS)
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B (.250 AVG, 1 HR, .790 OPS)
4. Kris Bryant, 3B (.300 AVG, 0 HR, .900 OPS)
5. Miguel Montero, C (.160 AVG, 2 HR, .698 OPS)
6. Starlin Castro, SS (.311 AVG, 1 HR, .740 OPS)
7. Chris Coghlan, LF (.235 AVG, 2 HR, .816 OPS)
8. Jake Arrieta, P (0-4, 4 K, .000 OPS)
9. Jonathan Herrera, 2B (.182 AVG, 0 HR, .399 OPS)

Pirates:
1. Josh Harrison, 3B (.233 AVG, 1 HR, .647 OPS)
2. Gregory Polanco, RF (.261 AVG, 0 HR, .639 OPS)
3. Andrew McCutchen, CF (.211 AVG, 2 HR, .721 OPS)
4. Neil Walker, 2B (.238 AVG, 1 HR, .648 OPS)
5. Starling Marte, LF (.171 AVG, 3 HR, .619 OPS)
6. Pedro Alvarez, 1B (.256 AVG, 4 HR, .899 OPS)
7. Francisco Cervelli, C (.300 AVG, 0 HR, .730 OPS)
8. Jung Ho Kang, SS (.100 AVG, 0 HR, .282 OPS)
9. A.J. Burnett, P (0-3, 2 K, .000 OPS)

Starting Pitchers 

Cubs: Jake Arrieta (1.98 ERA, 2.11 FIP, 0.5 fWAR, 13 2/3 IP)

Pirates: A.J. Burnett (2.25 ERA, 2.34 FIP, 0.3 fWAR, 12 IP)

Many expected Jake Arrieta to regress after his amazing 2014 season which resulted in the right-hander having a 2.26 ERA, the second-best in MLB of pitchers (behind only Clayton Kershaw) that threw at least 150 innings on the year. But (and while it's a very small sample size), so far Arrieta has looked like the same guy we saw last season, both in terms of stuff and results.

After putting together a rough 4.59 ERA over 34 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2014, 38-year-old A.J. Burnett planned to retire, before ultimately signing a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Pirates. And in his two starts in 2015, Burnett has been very effective. He's not the same guy that threw high 90s years ago (Fangraphs has his fastball velocity averaging 90.9 mph right now), but he's a veteran that knows how to pitch.

Pirates vs Arrieta

Pedro Alvarez: 1-8 (.125 AVG), 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, .625 OPS.

Francisco Cervelli: 0-1, 1 K, .000 OPS.

Josh Harrison: 0-3, 2 K, .000 OPS.

Andrew Lambo: 0-1, 1 K, .000 OPS.

Starling Marte: 2-2 (1.000 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 2.000 OPS.

Andrew McCutchen: 4-11 (.364 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, .871 OPS.

Neil Walker: 1-12 (.083 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, .167 OPS.

It feels like Neil Walker destroys the Cubs (well I know he has in big moments, at least. ) so it's weird to see him with the worst numbers of anyone in the lineup vs Jake Arrieta. I'm sure he has some highly annoying moment up his sleeve for this series, though.

Andrew McCutchen is 4-11 but, I mean, he does that vs everyone so it's hardly worth noting.

Cubs vs Burnett

Welington Castillo: 2-7 (.286 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 1 K, .946 OPS.

Starlin Castro: 13-29 (.448 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 3 K, 1.000 OPS.

Chris Coghlan: 0-3, 1 K, .000 OPS.

Dexter Fowler: 2-3 (.667 AVG), 0 HR, 1 BB, 0 K, 1.417 OPS.

Jonathan Herrera: 4-4 (1.000 AVG), 0 HR, 2 BB, 0 K, 2.000 OPS.

Miguel Montero: 3-5 (.600 AVG), 0 HR, 0 BB, 0 K, 1.467 OPS.

Anthony Rizzo: 5-21 (.238 AVG), 2 HR, 3 BB, 4 K, .857 OPS.

Holy Starlin Castro success vs Burnett.

But, by far the one that stood out is Jonathan Herrera being 4-4 with a couple walks? Huh? What? Didn't see that one coming by Herrera vs anyone, including in the minors.

Who's Hot

Starlin Castro is a really good hitter (and don't let any of the #haterz tell you otherwise), but he's been really, really good of late:

The highlight of Starlin's stretch of course was his game-winning single on Saturday vs Craig Kimbrel:



For the Pirates, 29-year-old right-hander Jared Hughes has been very good out of the bullpen, putting together eight scoreless innings with only four hits and one walk allowed, while striking out 10.

Who's Not

Arismendy Alcantara is a mess right now at the plate, with just two hits (only singles) in 32 at-bats. Joe Maddon has been starting Herrera over Alcantara at second base in most every game of late, and while Alcantara is really bad right now, the talented 23-year-old needs at-bats. He's especially struggling vs changeups and splitters down and away, and you aren't going to get any better hitting those pitches while sitting on the bench. I have a feeling Alcantara will be sent down to Iowa soon (and this would be a good thing if he isn't going to get at-bats in the majors), with either uberprospect Addison Russell (Triple-A) or Tommy La Stella (disabled list) taking his MLB roster spot.

The guy I'm going to highlight being cold for the Pirates... well it's Mr. McCutchen, and we know that won't last. Seeing he is only hitting .211 is about the scariest thing I took note of heading into this series. The superstar center fielder is going to break out at any moment. Let's hope he waits until Friday when the Cubs have left town.

This & That

As we alluded to earlier, Kris Bryant still doesn't have his first home run. And PNC Park is the perfect park for Bryant's power game with the absurd amount of opposite field, high flyballs he drives. It is only 325 feet down the right field line at PNC, so don't be surprised if Bryant's first MLB homer lands in that direction.

Relatable Tweet
This is the beginning of a huge stretch for the Cubs, and the chance for them to make a statement that they have arrived (so to speak) in the NL Central.

Relatable Videos

So, that area of PNC Park I talked about Bryant possibly hitting his first MLB homer in? Mike Olt -- the guy Bryant basically replaced at third base for the Cubs-- did the same thing for his first MLB homer last April:


 Get The Latest Blogfines Updates By Following Us On Twitter.