Lost in the Nationals’ eventual 8-7 win Saturday against the Braves was another big offensive performance from Atlanta’s Jason Heyward.
Heyward, 24, hit a 420-foot solo home run to right-center field in the bottom of the first inning and then tied the game at 7-7 with a 415-foot two-run shot off closer Rafael Soriano in the bottom of the ninth.
He was 2-for-7 with three RBI and two runs scored.
The Braves wound up losing to the Nats in the 15th inning when Adam LaRoche homered to snap the deadlock, but it was Heyward’s sixth straight multi-hit game and he’s now batting .390/.447/.662 with 11 extra-base hits and 23 runs scored over his last 19 contests.
Atlanta currently holds a 14 1/2 game lead in the National League East.
Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.
Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.
To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.