What You Need To Know: The Cubs’ offensive explosion continued, as they now have plated 37 runs just four games in on their current road trip. They pounded Chad Kuhl (insert your own “cool” pun here) for nine runs in an inning and two-thirds and effectively put this one out of reach before the fourteenth fan found their seat at a nearly empty PNC Park. Jason Heyward, Addison Russell, and Miguel Montero combined to reach base nine times and drive in five runs, which should help allay any ridiculous concern a certain BP Wrigleyville contributor had about the bottom of the order. Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant, and Anthony Rizzo also combined to reach base nine times tonight, although Rizzo did not manage to get a hit, which caused his twelve game hitting streak to be snapped.
Next Level: The Comeback Player of the Year award (an award born out of a sponsorship with Viagra – you can’t make this stuff up) has historically been given to a player who achieved success after sustaining a serious injury. However, if Jason Heyward maintains his current .297/.348/.422 line (taken prior to tonight’s game), and continues to show his ability to rise up and display the stamina to perform at a high level (so long as Heyward is also not taking nitrates for chest pains or if his performance doesn’t last for more than four hours) he’s going to win the award. It’s night and day watching Heyward at the plate this year compared to his dismal 2016. Take a look at his home run tonight.
Jason Heyward has 10 RBI in his last four games.
And three of these: pic.twitter.com/er2wXItgH8
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) April 24, 2017
Heyward was able to turn on a ninety-five mile per hour fastball up and away from him and deposit it into the right-center field seats. Only one of Heyward’s 2016 extra base hits came on a pitch thrown harder than that Chad Kuhl fastball, and it was pretty much a meatball down the middle, not a pitch that slightly missed its target on the outer portion of the plate, like tonight. It’s still early, but if I told you that Jason Heyward would have more home runs than Kris Bryant twenty games into the season, Cubs fans most likely would have feared Bryant sustained a Kyle Schwarber-type early season injury and only played in a handful of games. That’s not the case, however, and it’s safe to say that no matter what happens the rest of the way, Jason Heyward is locked in at the plate right now.
Top WPA Play: The Cubs were up 9-1 before the Pirates batted in the bottom of the second, with the big blows coming from Heyward’s three-run home run in the top of the first (+.213), and Ben Zobrist’s bases-clearing double in the top of the second (+0.094).
Bottom WPA Play: David Freese continued to hammer Cubs pitching as he drove in the Pirates first run in the bottom of the first (-0.076).
Next Up: Kyle Hendricks takes the hill for the Cubs tomorrow night against the Pirates, opposing Gerrit Cole. Be sure to check back at BP Wrigleyville for the recap.
Lead photo courtesy Charles LeClair—USA Today Sports