Today’s Buster Olney column is actually pretty good as it relates to Jason Heyward’s expectations and the media and all of that, but I can’t help but think his opening paragraphs were specifically intended to give Braves fans a heart attack:
Jason Heyward was born in Georgia, was a first-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves,
was seen as a hometown-kid-makes-good star since high school, has been
given high marks for his makeup, and is on the verge of breaking into
the majors amid outsized expectations.
Jeff Francoeur knows something about all that. He was born in Georgia. He was a first
round pick of the Braves. He was seen as a
hometown-kid-makes-good-star, was given high marks for his makeup, and
he broke into the majors amid outsized expectations.
I like to slam Francoeur whenever I can because he made me cry big tears when he was in a Braves uniform, but I have to be fair here and note that he gives some very good advice to Heyward in the column about how to handle it all. For as big as city as Atlanta is, it’s a pretty provincial place when it comes to its athletes, so if Heyward has even a fraction of the start Francoeur had when he broke into the league, you can bet people will go kinda crazy.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.