Jason Heyward thriving in new leading role

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Braves outfielder Jason Heyward was carrying a sub-.700 OPS near the end of July when Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to move him from the #2 spot in the lineup, where he had hit for most of the season, to the lead-off spot. Despite owning baseball’s best record at 74-47, the Braves have lacked a “true” lead-off hitter for most of the season. Andrelton Simmons (.643 OPS) has led off 62 times and Jordan Schafer (.828 OPS) has led off 20 times but has also been injured for most of the season. Even B.J. Upton led off 13 times at the beginning of the season.

On July 27, Gonzalez moved Heyward up a spot in the lineup and it has been just what the doctor ordered. In 18 games since, Heyward is hitting .382/.455/.603. He has had multiple hits in six out of his last seven games. The Braves, meanwhile, have won 16 of those games (89%), averaging 5.4 runs per game. Their first place lead in the NL East has increased from 8.5 games to 14.5 games.

Because of his size and power potential, Heyward was never really thought of as a lead-off hitter, but he has the second-best walk-to-strikeout ratio on the team (0.67). He trails Simmons, but has reached base overall nearly seven percent more often, which is what really matters. Designating Heyward as the lead-off man was certainly not an obvious move, but considering how well things have gone for the Braves since, it was a necessary move.

Assault charges against Roberto Osuna withdrawn, peace bond issued

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Astros reliever Roberto Osuna appeared in an Ontario court today, where the assault charges against him were withdrawn. In their place is now a one-year peace bond, which is akin to a restraining order combined with probation. Pursuant to the peace bond Osuna is required to continue with counseling he has undertaken, to not get in any legal trouble and to have no contact with his accuser without court consent for the next year.

The reason for the revocation of the charges is that, according to prosecutors, the complainant is in Mexico and would not return to Canada for a trial against Osuna. Without her testimony the case against Osuna could not be won. The peace bond, then, was the only real option.

Osuna was arrested in Toronto while still playing for the Blue Jays and was charged with assaulting a woman on May 8. Major League Baseball suspended him for 75 games under the league’s domestic violence policy. The Blue Jays traded him to the Astros on July 30 in exchange for Ken Giles and two minor leaguers and he has pitched for the Astros ever since. This latest hearing was scheduled to coincide with the Astros’ trip to Toronto this week.

The Astros issued a statement:

And statements from Osuna and his attorney: