Originally posted on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 9/20/13
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]

This article first appeared on The Outside Corner and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Osweiler: Film from last two years proves I should be starter

Daughter of Bucks owner burns Bill Simmons on Twitter

Tiger Woods tells golf world to try and kick this football he’s holding

Tyronn Lue: Gameplanning to defend Celtics harder than Warriors

How the Senators can upset the Penguins in Game 7

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Paxton Lynch cutting out early while other QBs stay late

Michael Jordan unique 1984 Converse shoes could fetch up to $100K at auction

Joe Girardi has interesting reason why no medical scans for Masahiro Tanaka

Ezekiel Elliott’s mom fires back after son criticized for being in car accident

Browns make Ryan Grigson senior personnel executive

Potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz looks positively jacked in recent photo

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

Box Score 5/24: Craig Anderson saves the Senators

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

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

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker