Let’s be honest, this past weekend series loss against the Pittsburgh Pirates is not what Chicago Cubs fans were expecting. After the 21-0 thrashing the Cubs dished out to the Pirates on Saturday, it was almost guaranteed they would split the series on Sunday. With that being said, there were a couple of bright spots over the four-game series that should be talked about.
Nico Hoerner Continues to Hit
Nico Hoerner has been a spark plug in the nine-spot for the Cubs’ lineup all season. This weekend was no exception. In 12 at-bats, the shortstop had eight hits, including a four-hit game in Saturday’s massacre, with three RBI and one stolen base. For the season, he’s batting .327 with an .809 OPS. He also ranks in the top 30 for WAR among all MLB players. What more could you ask for from a number nine hitter?
The one question many fans had over the weekend however was: why was Nico benched on Sunday? After three solid games, it was expected to see Hoerner make the start in the series finale. Maybe he asked for a day off? Maybe manager David Ross wanted to see someone else play short on Sunday? Whatever the reason was, as long as Nico’s hitting the ball, he needs to be in the lineup. Period.
Kyle Hendricks Bounces Back
After a rough start earlier in the season against the Pirates, Kyle Hendricks needed a bounce back in a big way. The story on Saturday was the 21-0 smashing the Cubs’ bats handed out, but let’s not forget about The Professor’s performance as well. In 7.0 innings for the Cubs, the righty gave up only two hits while striking out two and did not allow a single run or walk. After a rough spring training and a couple of shaky performances to start the season, this is a start that Hendricks can build on and hopefully we can see more long outings like this from him in the future.
Alfonso Rivas on the Rise?
Alfonso Rivas’ three-run home run on Saturday was arguably the spark that started the 21-run outburst. He finished the day going 3-for-5 with five RBI. On Sunday, he followed that up with a pinch-hit double. Although he hasn’t had too many starts this season, Rivas has made the most of his time. In 12 at-bats, he’s batting .500 with one home run, six RBI, and a 1.371 OPS. Although a small sample size, he’s looked pretty good thus far. If Rivas is going to continue to hit like this, Ross should definitely consider starting him more in the lineup. Whether it’s at first base, DH, or even the outfield, the options are there.
The Cubs have an off day on Monday and then begin a tough road trip that starts on Tuesday with a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves, followed by a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
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