So far this season, Heyward, 27, is hitting .225/.304/.313 (67 OPS+) with only five home runs. It's the first season of his eight-year, $184 million contract.
Heyward has already been dropped in the order, and now he's being demoted to the bench, at least temporarily. He'll spend the weekend in the dugout.
Jason Heyward won't start all weekend. Healthy, Maddon giving him a long break.— Jesse Rogers (@ESPNChiCubs) August 19, 2016
Manager Joe Maddon said he doesn't want to use Heyward at all this weekend, not unless it's an emergency. He wants to give him a nice long breather to clear his head. Here are three takeaways about this move ...
1. The Cubs are in position to work on things.
The Cubs come into Friday with baseball's best record at 77-43. They're 13 games up in the NL Central and pretty much every projection system gives them an almost 100 percent chance to make the postseason. Nothing is clinched until it's clinched, but Chicago has a huge lead, so they are in position to take their time and get things right. They can sit Heyward and do things like that.
2. Other stars have received mental breaks this year.
More star players are seemingly receiving "mental breaks" this season than ever before, giving struggling players an entire series on the bench, not just one or two games. Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton, and Andrew McCutchen all spent several games on the bench earlier this season when they were struggling. Heyward is the newest member of the club.
3. Would it have been worth it to play him in Coors Field?
The Cubs are playing the Rockies in Coors Field this weekend, and boy, is that a great place to hit or what? Because of that, would it have been worth it to play Heyward this weekend and hope he gets hot in a hitter's park and builds confidence? If that doesn't work, Maddon could have then sat him for the team's upcoming three-game series with the Padres in spacious Petco Park.
It's a fair question to ask, but remember that Maddon knows Heyward much more than we do. He knows how he's feeling right now, and if he believes now is the time to give him a breather, then now's the time to do it. Either way, the Cubs have been trying to get Heyward right all season. This mental break is their latest attempt.