The Braves' Matt Diaz is no fool; praises Jason Heyward's ascension

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Mat Diaz.jpgIf there’s anyone who has a right to be bummed by Jason Heyward winning the Braves’ starting right field job it’s Matt Diaz who is basically losing his starting job to Heyward. But part of what makes Diaz a useful player is that he’s pretty smart, and his brains were on full display today when he was asked about Heyward:

“I’m sure the fans are pleased, but I know this
locker room’s very, very pleased. We’re all pumped. We know he can help
us. He’s going to make pitchers pitch differently . . .I have no idea how it’s going to work. I just know we have
four really good outfielders, and Bobby always finds a
way to find people playing time. I’m sure if he feels I have the hot
hand, I’ll get to play. I don’t know what position, I don’t know when.
I’m sure the other guys are the same way.”

I’m sure Diaz is aware that Heyward, for all of his promise, is being overhyped to some degree. I’m also sure that if you asked him to be totally honest he’d say that in 2010 he could probably outhit Heyward, certainly against lefties, and very likely overall (indeed; if Heyward puts up a 120-130 OPS+ like Diaz is capable of he’d exceed his already high expectations).

But Diaz is no fool. He knows who the future is in Atlanta, and it certainly isn’t a 32 year-old platoon guy.  Maybe it’s not appropriate to praise Diaz for acknowledging what seems manifest, but worse players than him have reacted far more poorly upon losing their jobs in the past, and it’s nice to see that any potential headaches in this situation are being avoided.

But wouldn’t it be great to see Melky Cabrera lose his head over all of this?

Astros clinch postseason berth with 11-3 win over Angels

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No surprise here: The Astros are headed back to the postseason to defend their title following a landslide 11-3 win over the Angels on Friday. This figures to be their third playoff run since 2015, though they have yet to wrap up the AL West with a division title.

First baseman Yuli Gurriel led the charge on Friday, smashing a grand slam in the first inning and tacking on a two-run homer in the second and RBI single in the fifth to help the Astros to a seven-run lead. The Angels eventually returned fire, first with Mike Trout‘s 418-foot homer in the sixth, then with an RBI hit from Francisco Arcia in the seventh, but they couldn’t close the gap in time to overtake the Astros.

On the mound, right-hander Gerrit Cole clinched his 15th win of the year after holding the Angels to seven innings of three-run, 12-strikeout ball. His sixth strikeout of the night — delivered on an 83.1-MPH knuckle curveball to Kaleb Cowart — also marked the 1,000th strikeout of his career to date. He was backed by flawless performances by lefty reliever Tony Sipp and rookie right-hander Dean Deetz, both of whom turned in scoreless innings as the offense barreled toward an 11-3 finish with Jake Marisnick‘s sac bunt and George Springer‘s three-run shot in the eighth.

Despite having qualified for the playoffs, the Astros still carry a magic number of 6 as they look to clinch a third straight division title. They’re currently up against the Athletics, who entered Friday’s contest against the Twins just four games back of first place in the AL West.