When Jason Heyward’s jaw was fractured in two places as the result of being hit by a pitch from Mets left-hander Jon Niese on August 21, it was assumed that he would miss the rest of the regular season, but Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that he has been activated from the disabled list and will bat leadoff and play center field this afternoon against the Cubs.
Heyward required surgery to address the fractures, but his rehab went smoothly and he progressed to facing live pitching in recent days. He’s expected to wear a custom helmet fitted with a plastic guard attached to protect his jaw, but getting some at-bats down the stretch will be a big plus, as he’ll be able to get comfortable and shake the rust before the postseason begins.
Heyward, 24, is batting .253/.347/.423 with 13 home runs and 37 RBI over 95 games this season. He has a .414 on-base percentage and .994 OPS in 22 games out of the leadoff spot.
The Cubs’ defense — or lack thereof this year — has been a topic of conversation as it could help explain why the team hasn’t played at the elite level it played at last year.
Manager Joe Maddon tried to go into detail about that but ended up channeling his inner Rex Ryan. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney.
If, in the future, Joe Ross ever complains about a lack of run support, point to his first four starts of the 2017 season.
Ross started on April 19 in Atlanta against the Braves, on April 25 in Colorado against the Rockies, on April 30 at home against the Mets, and on May 23 at home against the Mariners. In those games, the Nats’ offense scored 14, 15, 23, and 10 runs respectively for a total of 62 runs, or an average of 15.5 per start. Ross was the pitcher of record for seven, eight, 10, and 10 runs for a total of 35 runs (8.75 runs per start), which would still make him the major league leader in run support by that restrictive standard.
Among qualified starters — Ross did not qualify — entering Tuesday’s action, the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela led the way according to ESPN, averaging 7.11 runs of support in nine starts. The Rockies scored double-digit runs in only three of those starts, oddly enough.
Per the Nationals, the 62 runs of support for Ross is a major league record in a pitcher’s first four starts of a season.