Ugh! What a hard day to watch baseball for Braves fans. It felt like the team was behind the 8-ball all day, then a glimmer of hope from El Oso Blanco, then back to 8-ball. It’s not every day that the best closer in baseball blows a save, and it’s not every day that the best shortstop in baseball commits a critical error. I guess if those things are going to happen, might as well get them out of the way all in one game.
This stretch of games the last couple of weeks reminds me of that stretch of games near the beginning of the season when Atlanta couldn’t beat Pittsburgh or Detroit, and the offense and pitching all looked anemic. Much of that was on the road, where the Braves are now a sub-.500 team (37-40); and a lot of that bad play was without Jason Heyward. The kid is super-critical to Atlanta’s offense, and it’s really starting to show.
The problem lately has been that there are not enough players contributing in Heyward’s absence. That’s been true all year of BJ and Uggla, but now not enough of the other guys are chipping in. In the month of September, Evan Gattis has contributed with the long ball (5) and RBI (12), but he’s hitting a meek .218. Justin Upton is hitting .214 with 1 RBI on a solo HR. Freddie Freeman (.356), Chris Johnson (.296), Elliott Johnson (.300), and Andrelton Simmons (.250) are doing enough, but B-Mac (.143), Schafer (.176) and of course BJ and Uggla are all contributing close to zero to the offense.
I honestly don’t know how BJ and Uggla deal with the embarrassment of being so horrible this season. Both are being replaced by players who were claimed off of waivers.
If there was some good news about that tough stretch of games I mentioned at the beginning of the season, it’s that it was followed by a stretch of really good games by the Braves — they went on an 8-game winning streak the day Heward returned to the lineup.
I don’t know if they need to turn back into Dr. Jekyll or unleash Mr. Hyde, but at some point the switch on this team is going to flip and no one is going to be able to beat them… let’s hope that carries over into the postseason.
The Braves are 60-and-29 in games that Jason Heyward starts. They are 29-and-33 in all other games. Thought: Jason Heyward is Atlanta’s most valuable player, and his absence proves it.