Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/15/14
Mlb-all-star-game
The Atlanta Braves got a massive boost when it was announced that Jason Heyward would be activated from the DL on Friday, and would be starting in center field and leading off for the Braves in the opening game of their weekend series with the Cubs. Heyward is expected to play five innings and/or get three at bats on Friday. Since a Jonathon Niese pitch broke Heyward's jaw on August 21st, Atlanta has struggled. The team's record is 13-13, but they've scored four or more runs in just nine of those 26 games. Over the last 30 days, which coincidentally lines up perfectly with Heyward's injury, the team is hitting .228/.296/.358. BJ Upton and Jordan Schafer have gotten nearly all of the reps in center field with Heyward out, and the pair (along with two plate appearances from Reed Johnson) has combined to hit .188/.258/.250 since that pitch smashed Heyward in the jaw. Those struggles are exemplified when you consider that those two have hit leadoff in 22 or the 26 games that Heyward has missed in this last recent stint. In 22 games hitting at the top of Atlanta's order, Heyward is hitting .341/.414/.580 and the Braves are 17-5. Heyward has also gotten playing time in his usual spot of right field while hitting leadoff, but the recent struggles of Schafer and the Upton of late will thrust him back into center, with Justin Upton and a revolving door of the elder Upton, Schafer, Johnson, Evan Gattis, and Joey Terdoslavich in the third outfield position. When BJ Upton or Schafer is playing, Heyward will likely shift over to right while Upton goes to left, but Heyward starting in center means that Upton is in right and one of Johnson, Gattis, or Terdoslavich in left. It's a simple premise - the Braves are a good team without Heyward, a great team with him, and an incredible team with him leading off. The Braves are more than likely going to clinch the NL East title this weekend, and getting homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs is so huge for a team that is an MLB-best 52-22 at home this season. With just a 1.5 game advantage on the Cardinals and a 2.5 game edge on the Dodgers for the NL's top seed, every win counts down the stretch, and Heyward's return will help the Braves pick up those essential extra wins. [follow]
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Metta World Peace expresses interest to coach St John's

Knicks want Marc Gasol, do they know what they’re asking for?

New York Rangers are the first team to clinch a playoff spot

Victorino: I plan on playing every day for Red Sox in 2015

The Rams are still planning on drafting a quarterback

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Howard willing to make 'ultimate sacrifice' to help Rockets

Pacquiao bought P. Diddy’s house for $12.5M, fight tickets

The Seahawks are already winning the NFL Draft

Fiancée takes stand at Aaron Hernandez's murder trial

Thunder announce Kevin Durant to miss rest of season

Jeremy Maclin says he still believes in Chip Kelly

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Dominique Wilkins in HORSE

Angels remove Josh Hamilton banner from front of stadium

Elite Eight preview: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

Support for relocation growing among NFL powers

Mother says special needs son forced to remove varsity letter

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Minnesota Timberwolves: Should they tank?

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

Twins to offer $19 Bloody Mary with pizza slice garnish

Ranking the NBA's hottest coaching seats

The beginning of the end for Notre Dame

An identity in flux: Harden and the collective consciousness

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: 2 Chainz beats Nique in HORSE

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Notre Dame vs. Kentucky

Elite Eight preview and predictions: Arizona vs. Wisconsin

NFL owners chose cost over game integrity

Be careful how loudly you cheer on Mo'ne Davis' olive branch

James Harden and the collective consciousness

Hottest coaching seats in NBA

Under-the-radar NL MVP candidates

Notre Dame’s coach makes first Elite Eight

The last Expo standing

Five under-the-radar AL MVP candidates

Michigan sent recruit's GF a letter

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.