Listen, it is illegal to exhibit any sort of excitement about a potential bounce-back from Jason Heyward until he actually finishes a full season with an OPS over .800. I’m sorry, but that’s just the law, and it has been the law ever since he convinced everyone that 2017 was going to be his big comeback year thanks to a reconstructed swing. I bring this up simply to make it clear that what I am about to show you is not evidence that Jason Heyward is definitely good again, but is evidence that baseball can be wild.
That’s Heyward tying up last night’s game against the Brewers in the eighth inning by turning a Josh Hader fastball into an RBI single. One guy hitting a single off another guy is not an inherently interesting thing to see happen in a baseball game, but given the players involved, this outcome was about as unlikely as any you could imagine.
Josh Hader is a dragon that eats almost every batter that comes before him, particularly lefties. The young Brewers reliever has been essentially impossible to hit this season, surrendering just 11 knocks in 37 innings while striking out 72. Seventy-two! Coming into last night’s game, the Brewers were 21-0 in games in which Hader pitched, and lefties were hitting .057 off him.
Meanwhile, Heyward entered the game hitting .158 against lefties. So there we all were, ready to watch the best reliever in the world, who had allowed two measly hits to lefties all year, do some very cruel and embarrassing things to a guy with one of the most consistently broken swings in baseball. Instead, we got a tie game. Heyward even came back for more in the 11th inning, when he smacked a two-run double off Boone Logan, yet another lefty, to help secure a 7-2 win for the Cubs.
This all comes on the heels of Heyward hitting a walk-off grand slam off another lefty in a game against the Phillies last week. So what explains his recent run of success against the sort of left-handers who have historically tortured him? Cubs manager Joe Maddon tried to explain last night (via ESPN):
“His setup is entirely different,” manager Joe Maddon said. “And with that, he’s making a better pass at the baseball. He’s just set better. You can see how the ball is coming off the bat. It’s kind of snapping. There is no push in his swing. It’s all snap right now. That’s the difference.”
So there you have it. Jason Heyward’s swing is “all snap right now.” Sorry, but like I said before, you aren’t allowed to be excited about this.