John Jaso proved that starting on an everyday basis might be a bit above his pay grade. While starting regularly, he batted .298/.367/.426 in 211 plate appearances through June 10. His transition from the outfield to first base went better than anyone could've expected, but he seemed to tire from the workload. Over the next two-plus months, he batted .192 and lost playing time. He then settled into a part-time role and was one of Pittsburgh's better hitters (.339/.406/.661 in his final 69 plate appearances). His path to playing time in 2017 is narrower following the emergence of Josh Bell and the late-season extension given to David Freese. At $4 million, Jaso becomes an expensive bench player in an organization with tight pockets. The Pirates have talked about giving him repetitions at third base, but unless the team suffers several crippling injuries, it's unlikely he sees another 432 plate appearances.
Jaso went 2-for-3 with a home run, two runs, two RBI and two walks in Sunday's 10-4 loss to the Cardinals. After Pittsburgh fell behind 4-2 in the bottom of the sixth, Jaso tied the game at 4-4 with his two-run shot in the seventh. The long ball was his eighth of the year but third in the season's final three weeks. The 33-year-old suited up for a career-high 132 games in 2016, batting .268/.353/.413 as the Pirates' regular first baseman. He's been more of a platoon player for the majority of his career, however, so it may be tough to count on him retaining his full-time role in 2017.
Jaso will start at first base and bat sixth Saturday in St. Louis. Saturday will mark Jaso's seventh start in the last eight games. He's seeing the ball as well as any starter, hit for the cycle Wednesday and has four hits (including a homer) in eight at-bats against Saturday starter Michael Wacha.
Jaso hit for his first career cycle in Wednesday's 8-4 win over the Cubs, finishing 4-for-4 with 5 RBI and two runs scored. After a fairly quiet month of September, the veteran first baseman erupted for his first career cycle -- the first ever in PNC Park -- and accounted for seven of the Pirates eight runs scored. If hitting for the cycle wasn't impressive enough, three of the four hits, including the double and home run (his seventh of the season), were off last year's NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta. The stellar performance lifts Jaso's line to .267/.348/.407 on the season.
Jaso went 1-for-4 with a home run Thursday against the Phillies. Back in the leadoff spot for the first time since Aug. 2, and returning to the lineup for his first start since Saturday, Jaso wasted little time before making an impact. Jaso finished an eight-pitch at-bat by crushing a home run to center field off Jared Eickhoff to start Thursday's game. The solo shot came off Jaso's bat at 103 mph, according to Statcast, and traveled a projected 412 feet. It was his sixth homer of the season and the seventh of his career to lead off a game. After hitting .314 in 35 at-bats last month, the first baseman is off to a sluggish start in September. He's just 5-for-21 (.238) with a .304 OBP, both of which are the second-worst marks for any month this season for Jaso.
Jaso hit his fifth homer of the season Sunday against the Brewers. He started at first base for the first time since August 20. The left-handed hitter has adjusted well to his bench role with the arrival of Josh Bell, singling in each of three pinch-hitting opportunities prior to Sunday.