As the dramatic series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves winds down with what the Braves hope is a pitching duel instead of a lashing, the importance of Jason Heyward is showing clearly. The second game was a classic and the first game was as ugly as they come but close until the end. These are the games that these teams use to tune up for the end of the season. Sadly for the Braves, they would be one game away from elimination if this were a best of five series.
It isn’t that they have played badly. Actually they have played well and pitched very well with the exception of the insanely hot Matt Kemp. Where the problems have shown is in the little things. Imagine how important a stolen base will be in the postseason considering how vital they are in this current series. Now who is the Braves best base runner? It is Heyward without a doubt.
Though the tall right fielder might not be the best threat for stolen bases, he runs the bases as well as anyone in baseball. Things like that are glaringly important when we see Jordan Schafer get picked off by the old ‘fake turn’ move to second base. Heyward would have never made that terrible base running mistake. Chances are good that he would have had some hits coming through against these guys as well.
Think of how much more potent a Justin Upton, Heyward and Evan Gattis middle of the order sounds than without him. Without a doubt the Braves are doing the right thing in getting Heyward healthy. The really good news is that the best pitcher in the game is also the best lefty in the game and Heyward likely needs to miss the game against Clayton Kershaw.
Who knows though? Heyward has shown to be a game-changer for the Braves. When they are playing well enough to win, it is happening because of something Heyward is doing well. Don’t worry about how he is the best defensive right fielder in the game; we’re just talking about how important he is offensively. The Braves need him badly for the stretch run and this Dodgers series proves it.