The injury to Jason Heyward on Wednesday came at a time when the Braves had already put a lock on their playoff hopes for this season. However, for the next six weeks, the Braves will have to find a new option to handle the leadoff duties that Heyward had excelled at handling for the past month.
Heyward was hit with a 90-mph fastball in the face against the Mets on Wednesday, and was diagnosed with two fractures in his jaw. He returned to Atlanta yesterday and had surgery to set the injury, which is expected to keep him out of the Braves' lineup for the next four to six weeks.
Hopefully, Heyward's recovery and rehabilitation will let him get back in the active lineup for the last week of the Braves' regular season, which ends on September 29. If Heyward returns in five weeks, he would be in the lineup for the Braves' season-ending series against the Phillies at Turner Field.
On the season, Heyward was hitting .253 with 13 HR and 37 RBI. However, since moving into the leadoff role on July 27, Heyward had been hitting .341 (28-for-82) with 4 HR, 15 RBI, and an eye-popping 23 runs scored. His OBP was .407 for his stint in the leadoff spot.
With Heyward out, the Braves have to find another tablesetter for the top of the lineup. Jordan Schafer started in center field and hit leadoff last night - but went 0-for-5 as the Braves lost 6-2. Whether the Braves use Schafer, SS Andrelton Simmons, or one of the Upton brothers, they will sorely miss the production Heyward had provided.
It's a good thing the club has a 14 game lead over Washington to coast into the postseason with.