Jason Heyward is in the midst of his first extended slump, going 1-for-20 in his last seven games, and Braves manager Bobby Cox thinks he’s being too patient at the plate:
We’re going to talk to him. He’s taking way too many pitches for strikes. [As a result] he’s getting one pitch to swing at right now.
Not many 20-year-old rookies are accused of being too patient during their first month in the big leagues, but Heyward is so good that even his problems are positive ones.
As for whether there’s truth to what Cox is saying, thanks to Fan Graphs we can see that the numbers seemingly agree. Heyward has 13 walks and 25 strikeouts in 81 plate appearances, which certainly shows that he’s taking tons of pitches and working deep counts often. In fact, he ranks third in the league with an average of 4.47 pitches per plate appearance.
He’s also swung at the fourth-lowest percentage of pitches inside the strike zone, which certainly matches Cox’s assessment that Heyward is letting many hittable pitches go by. Also worth noting is that when Heyward does swing he has the 10th-worst contact rate in the league.
Ultimately this is all picking nits, because he’s a 20-year-old rookie with an .806 OPS, but it’ll be interesting to see what type of adjustments Heyward makes now that he’s experienced some adversity.
It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:
In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.
Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.
Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.
The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.
The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.
Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.