Chicago Cubs: What’s not to love about Nicholas Castellanos?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Since joining the Chicago Cubs, Nicholas Castellanos has revitalized the offense, helping jump-start the team heading into the season’s final two months.

For weeks leading up to last month’s trade deadline, there was one name that seemed to headline everyone’s wish list for the Chicago Cubs: Nicholas Castellanos. In a last-minute deal, ownership approved additional funds and Theo Epstein landed his man – a slugging outfielder who crushes left-handed pitching, something the Cubs had struggled to do so far in 2019.

While some deadline deals fall flat, the trade for Castellanos certainly hasn’t. The longtime Detroit outfielder boasts a team-leading 1.342 OPS over his first nine games with Chicago – courtesy of four home runs and six doubles. Ten of his 15 hits have been for extra bases.

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Everyone – and I mean everyone – has raved about what he’s brought to the Cubs, including his skipper Joe Maddon.

"“First of all, bat-to-ball skills – he’s got such a wonderful, old-school, inside approach,” Maddon told The Athletic (subcription required). “Very handsy. The ball’s going to get pulled if he gets out in front of something soft, but otherwise anything thrown well is going to be from left-center to the right-field line. I love that for a right-handed hitter. You talk about self-confidence. My God, he’s got tons of that. You’ve seen the baserunning. You’ve seen better speed than you thought. The biggest thing is the defense, so we’ve been digging into that.”"

Castellanos took Trevor Bauer deep on Friday – accounting for one of the only hard-hit balls the team managed in the 5-2 loss. He’s kept it simple, bringing what made him so successful in Detroit with him to the North Side of Chicago.

But something that’s gone overlooked has been the consistency of the Cubs lineup on a daily basis since Castellanos joined the team. For the first time in recent memory, the top of the order has been consistent with Castellanos sandwiched between leadoff man Jason Heyward and the team’s big boppers, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez.

That’s perhaps the most formidable top of the order in the league. But it won’t be enough to win every game – as we saw Friday when the team’s five through nine hitters went hitless in 20 at-bats in a loss to Cincinnati.

No one knows if this is just a two-month stop on the journey for Castellanos or if the Cubs have long-term plans for the 27-year-old former first-rounder. But he seems ready to make the most of it, regardless, keeping things simple and staying loose.

Next. Cubs need to let Happ play every day for awhile. dark

"“Big in the box, kick high, swing hard, run fast,” he told The Athletic (subscription required). “That’s about it.”"

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