Well, what do you know? Jason Heyward comes back to the lineup and the Atlanta Braves manage to score nine runs. He didn’t knock any in himself and he didn’t get a hit like I had hoped, but he did produce offensively for the Braves. In the top of the third with an out, he walked his way to first, which set up Freddie Freeman’s three-run homer later in the inning
Other than that plate appearance, Heyward went 0-2 with one strikeout. He didn’t look bad, though. He actually had a good at-bat in the top of the first where he battled to a 3-2 count. He was consistently late on the relatively slow fastballs being thrown at him — a sign that his timing wasn’t on which was expected — but he was able to fight them off and remain ready for breaking stuff.
The signs are good for Heyward’s recovery, but Fredi Gonzalez is still making him take it a little easy. He was pulled from the game after his third at-bat as to not over-exert himself. While it may seem that Heyward is fully recovered, the menacing attachment he was wearing during the game was a disturbing reminder of what happened to him. Whether it’s because his jaw isn’t fully healed or because of his anxiety, I don’t know, but neither are good.
The biggest question about Heyward is not, will he be able to play 100 percent in the postseason, but will he come back hitting over .300 like he was before the injury? Or will he return to the sub-par performance he provided for the first half of the season?
It’ll be a few weeks before we know that, but what we do know is that the Braves’ success in October will be very dependent on how Heyward fills the leadoff role.