Josh Bell burst onto the scene in 2016, stroking a memorable grand slam off Chicago's Jake Arrieta in his first series just prior to the All-Star break. GM Neal Huntington then recalled Bell for good in August. Bell batted .273/.368/.406 in 152 plate appearances, though he hit just .167 in his final 47 at-bats. The 24-year-old played at first base but later saw time in right field. His defense is below average but his bat excites fantasy owners. The switch-hitter hit .324 with 13 homers and 41:55 BB:K in 359 Triple-A plate appearances, contending for the Triple Crown. He also showed excellent command of the strike zone in Pittsburgh, walking more times (21) than he struck out (19). Bell should start out on the strong side of a platoon with David Freese at first base, but given his pedigree and long-term upside as a hitter, he should eventually earn everyday at-bats and could have a breakout season.
Bell went 2-for-3 with a solo home run and a second run scored in Wednesday's 6-5 win over the Cubs. His sixth-inning blast off Jon Lester, Bell's third homer of the season, proved to be crucial after the Cubs staged a rally in the eighth that brought them to within one run. The switch-hitting first baseman's hit all three of his home runs within the last week, slashing .316/.435/.789 during that stretch, but hitting in the bottom third of the order has limited him to only six RBI in 21 games. With Pittsburgh looking for offense, expect Bell to work his way into a more productive spot in the lineup if he stays locked in.
Bell went 1-for-3 against the Cubs on Monday and has at least one hit in each of his last seven starts. He started slowly but is batting .333 in his last 24 at-bats. The switch hitter has also belted a pair of homers while hitting righty over his hot stretch. There remains a possibility Pittsburgh moves him back to his natural position in the outfield from first base, but his hot bat will likely remain in the lineup, regardless of where he plays.
Bell is not in the lineup for Sunday's game against the Yankees. After starting the last six games, Bell will head to the bench Sunday as the Pirates face off against left-hander Jordan Montgomery and the Yankees. Bell had collected at least one hit in each of his past six contests, raising his batting average from .156 to .220 in the process. David Freese is manning first base in Bell's absence Sunday.
Bell went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer in Friday's victory over the Yankees. Bell's second homer of the season gave the Pirates a 4-0 lead that they'd never relinquish. After starting out the first half of the month slowly, he's homered in each of his last two games while hitting safely in four straight, but until he puts together some sustained success, he'll likely remain on many leagues' waiver wires.
Bell went 1-for-4 with a solo home run -- his first of the season -- during Wednesday's loss to St. Louis. Pittsburgh is going to need Bell to continue making a difference at the dish after the 80-game ban of Starling Marte was announced Tuesday. Bell showed promise as a rookie last season, and especially by walking more times than he struck out (21:19 BB:K). He sports a mini three-game hitting streak (4-for-12), and with the potential of earning a consistent gig in the top half of the Pirates' lineup, Bell is going to be handed an opportunity to succeed.
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