April and the beginning of May have not been the hottest months in recorded history, but Harrison has been on fire. He is slashing .333/.405/.778 since our last check in and has found his home run swing as well, smashing four home runs and 11 extra base hits overall during that stretch. The new power surge was highlighted by his first career multi-home run game when he launched two bombs in a 4-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on May 1. Is this new home run hitting Harrison here to stay? Probably not. His isolated power is more than twice his mark from last year (.220 vs. .105) and almost 100 points above his career mark (.130). Plus his home run per flyball rate (13.2 percent) is easily a career-high and dwarfs his production from last year (2.7 percent). Still, a hot streak is something that can be built off of and we are right at the beginning of Harrison’s favorite month of the year. In his career, Harrison has slashed .312/.349/.475 with nine home runs in May.
When looking at the overall picture, Harrison is currently second on the Pittsburgh Pirates in bWAR (1.1) and has been promoted to the leadoff spot, a place he has more than a little familiarity with. That’s what happens when you’re wRC+ rivals Kris Bryant’s.
Things are going in the other direction for Happ although not by any fault of his own. Happ was put on the seven-day DL on Tuesday with a bruised left thumb. The injury certainly didn’t help Happ, who has still been launching home runs (eight total) but is putting up a slash line of .250/.333/.571, which has hurt by a 3-of-14 effort at the plate the last four games. Hopefully Happ will be headed to a speedy recovery and back to mashing, especially as the Cubs could have ended up with Andrew Benintendi, the runaway rookie of the year contender in the AL, instead of Happ. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a guy who has yet to play at the MLB level.
After his ERA blew up past the 6.00 mark, Walsh has put together four innings of solid relief in his last two appearances. He did allow an earned run on April 24 against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (owners of an incredibly excellent logo and nickname), but he struck out three batters in two innings. He then had his ERA plunge to 5.25 with two innings of scoreless relief against the Montgomery Biscuits (another fun logo). His ERA isn’t ideal, but its going in the right direction and opposing batters are only hitting .186 off of him while he’s struck out 15 in 12 innings.
After he pitched so well in his first three starts, Atkinson had some trouble but still got moved to Single-A advanced. In his last outing with the Kane County Cougars, he was shelled for seven runs primarily due to control issues, as he walked five batters in 2 1⁄3 innings. Then, in his first start for the Visalia Rawhide, he was a bit better, letting up two runs on six hits (and four walks) in five innings. Atkinson still has a lot of work to do to move up the ladder, especially as his control has floundered recently. He is 3-1 with a 4.2 ERA in 25 innings overall this season.