Hoping for an Average Jason Heyward and Other Bullets

Jason Heyward CubsI’m off to Chicago today, and I hope to see some folks in the bleachers tonight. I wanted to wear an uncomfortable throwback jersey to celebrate Chris Sale’s start (his first since a bizarre jersey-shredding incident), but (1) he’s probably going to pitch well, as he usually does, which lessens the fun; and (2) I can’t find the one I wanted to wear. Grumble.

  • Jason Heyward continues to work hard to get his offensive game back on track, and he was back at it before Wednesday’s game (Cubs.com, CSN). The problems are not a mystery to anyone, but there’s hope that he can start making more solid contact, elevating just a touch more, and at least be an average offensive player the rest of the way. With his defense, that makes him, overall, a very good player – even if he wouldn’t quite be the guy he’s been the last six years. Then, after the season is over, everyone can go about the process of rebooting, and getting into a position to succeed again offensively in 2017. For his part, Heyward knows he’s just has to keep plugging away and doing what he believes will ultimately lead to success (ESPN).
  • Interestingly, Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs digs into the familiar not-enough-hard-contact problem (if you missed it, I wrote about it earlier this week), and concludes that, although it’s not just a matter of bad luck, maybe it’s helpful to the Cubs and Heyward to keep framing it as bad luck, especially if they’ve been working on his approach/swing/pitch-selection/etc. The last thing you want to see is a guy lose confidence in the very things the organization is trying to implement to improve results, because then you get a half-hearted adoption of the changes, and continued bad results, even worse confidence, etc. Thankfully, Heyward doesn’t seem like the kind of player who would suffer from that kind of confidence spiral. He’s had so much big league success before that, assuming he’s healthy, it seems more likely he could at some point find a rhythm in his swing and approach, get some better results, and then go from there. As I said, I don’t think we can realistically hope for an offensive re-emergence until after an offseason to re-set things, but I do think we can realistically hope for average offensive performance from here on out, so long as some of the harder contact continues to emerge.
  • By the way, Heyward’s defense remains very much on point: his 14 DRS are the best in the outfield in the National League. For all the offensive struggles, Heyward remains arguably the best defensive outfielder in the NL. That has real value.
  • Remember how Mets closer Jeurys Familia repeatedly wriggled off the hook against the Cubs in their two recent series? Remember how he had a 52-game save streak going? Well, the Cardinals beat him last night, ending that streak. Because of course.
  • Those Cardinals are looking for a top late inning reliever, by the way, according to Jon Heyman. If so, maybe a nice side benefit of the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman trade is that they pushed up the price tag even further on those types.
  • As Rahul Nallapappa notes at The Athletic, pretty much every first place team in baseball is struggling right now. No way, you mean the Cubs aren’t the only good team to go through lengthy ups and downs over the course of a 162-game season!?!?
  • Jim Harbaugh threw out the first pitch last night, and he pretty much looked exactly like a pitcher out there. Maybe 52-year-old college football coaches are the new market inefficiency?
  • If you’ve ever thought about getting a Dyson vacuum, now might be the time: lots of sales over at Amazon.
  • META on the Comments: Some of you go way too far with the GIFs after games, and it’s a real bummer. Makes me have to be the “rule” guy, and it’s not like I’m looking to be that guy. We can’t have covered up nudity (or actual nudity). We can’t have gross bodily stuff. We can’t have sexualized acts, or sexual parts seen bulging through clothing. (What choices have I made in my life that I have to type these sentences …. ) Follow those rules, and you should be mostly fine.

    Our advertising partners have strict limits on the kind of content that can appear on sites with their ads. I do not want to risk us violating those restrictions, because I don’t want to be confronted with the hard choices that would follow. Just stop doing it. There is a host of other visual ways to celebrate after a win – frankly, much more creatively than “oh, hey, boobs! oh, hey, boners!” Just stop. Repeat offenders who demonstrate that can’t be trusted will be banned, no matter how much I love you. This can’t continue.

    written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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