It seems like we are showering Christian Yelich with praise and superlatives on a nightly basis as the Brewers’ outfielder continues to pile up jaw-dropping numbers.
Make no mistake about it, he is the National League MVP. An extremely well-deserving one at that.
After helping to erase an early deficit with a two-run blast in Friday’s come-from-behind victory over the Tigers, Yelich did the same on Saturday. This time, it was a two-run shot off of Daniel Norris in the third inning that trimmed a 3-0 deficit to 3-2.
That was just the opening act though. Yelich then led off the seventh inning with a solo shot off of Tigers’ southpaw Daniel Stumpf, giving the Brewers a 6-5 lead in a must-win game that pulled them even with the Cubs atop the National League Central heading into the season’s final day.
The National League has not seen a player win the Triple Crown since Joe Medwick did so in 1937. Even as soon as a week ago, there was no real thought that Yelich or any player could challenge for that historic feat.
Don’t tell that to Yelich though, who has been on another planet this week. Over the last six games, he has hit (8-for-18) with five homers, a double, a triple, 10 walks, 10 runs scored, one stolen base and a jaw-dropping 16 RBI.
So what has this unbelievable surge done for his Triple Crown hopes?
For weeks now, it has been a foregone conclusion that Yelich would win his first batting title. He’s hitting .324, with his nearest competitor (Freddie Freeman) hitting .312.
With his two homers on Saturday, Yelich has pulled even with Cardinals’ slugger Matt Carpenter for the National League lead with 36 home runs.
The one place where he trails entering the season’s final day, is in RBI. Even with his remarkable 16 RBI over his last six games, Yelich still trails Cubs’ shortstop Javier Baez by two for the league lead. Yelich will enter play on Sunday with 109 RBI to Baez’s 111.
Since the All-Star break, Yelich has hit a remarkable .364 (91-for-250) with 25 homers, 66 RBI and nine stolen bases in 63 games. During that stretch, he has posted an unimaginable 48% HR/FB ratio. Nearly half of the balls that he has hit in the air since the All-Star break have left the yard.
On Sunday, he’ll probably homer again and drive in three more runs, as he attempts to lead the Brewers to a division title over the Cubs. He may even get an extra game to chase down Baez in RBI, if the two sides are forced to play a Game 163 on Monday.
You can go ahead and hand that man his MVP award now.
Setting the Stage
As of now, only one day remains in the MLB regular season for 2018 and there’s still plenty to be decided in the National League.
With Saturday’s victory over the Giants, the Dodgers officially clinched a playoff berth, knocking the Cardinals out of postseason contention. With the Rockies falling later in the evening to the Nationals, the two teams will enter play on Sunday tied atop the National League West.
The Dodgers have been here before. In fact, they’re looking to secure their sixth consecutive division title. They’ll do so on Sunday with star rookie right-hander Walker Buehler taking the mound against Giants’ left-hander Andrew Suarez.
The Rockies have opted against using German Marquez on short rest, and will instead turn to Tyler Anderson to start their most important game of the season. The Rockies, fresh off a 12-2 thrashing at the hand of the Nationals, are looking to secure their first division title in franchise history. They did get some good news late Saturday though, when Nationals’ skipper Dave Martinez announced that Max Scherzer would not take the ball on Sunday as had been anticipated. Instead, despite the game still having playoff implications, it’ll be Erick Fedde on the mound for the Nationals.
Martinez explained that since both the Rockies and Dodgers have already clinched postseason berths, and all that’s left to decide is seeding, he felt the need to protect his player by not running Scherzer out there once more. It’s a tough pill to swallow for Dodgers’ fans and for fantasy owners who were hoping for one more start from the star right-hander.
In the National League Central, we’re dealing with a similar scenario. The Brewers, behind the magic of Christian Yelich, came through with another come-from-behind victory over the Tigers on Saturday. That, coupled with the Cubs falling to the Cardinals earlier in the day, has the two clubs tied atop the division with one game left on the docket.
With every MLB game starting at the same time on Sunday, there’s sure to be plenty of drama to go around. For those rooting for chaos, it’s looking increasingly likely that there could be bonus baseball on Monday with at least one Game 163.
Chicks Dig the Long Ball
The Yankees tied the MLB record for most home runs by a team in a single season when they crushed four long balls in Friday’s victory over the Red Sox.
On Saturday, the record that had previously been held by the 1997 Seattle Mariners, fell to the wayside when Gleyber Torres smacked a two-run homer in the fourth inning, giving the Yankees 265 home runs for the season.
Perhaps as impressive, is that Torres’ home run was the 20th homer that the team had hit from the ninth spot in the lineup this season. In doing so, they became the first team in MLB history to have 20 or more home runs from each spot in their lineup in a season.
In addition to those home run records falling, Miguel Andujar set a new franchise rookie record for most doubles in a season. His run-scoring two-bagger in the fifth inning gave him 45 on the year, passing the record of 44 that had stood since Joe DiMaggio achieved it in 1936.
Miles and Miles of Mikolas
With the Cardinals facing elimination with a loss on Saturday, they needed to get a strong performance from their starting pitcher, Miles Mikolas.
In fact, that’s all Mikolas has done since joining the Cardinals this season after spending the last three seasons pitching overseas in Japan.
He was absolutely brilliant in this on though, allowing just on unearned run on five hits over eight dazzling innings, allowing the Cardinals to stave off elimination for at least a couple of hours.
With the victory, he improved to an outstanding 18-4 on the season to go with his stellar 2.83 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 146/29 K/BB ratio across 200 2/3 innings. He was undoubtedly one of the finest free agent pickups of the 2018 offseason. Fantasy owners who trusted Mikolas with a mid-round selection in last March’s draft were handsomely rewarded for their faith.
Also, with his impressive performance on Saturday, Mikolas finished the season a perfect 10-0 on the road. He joins Greg Maddux (1995) and Jimmy Key (1994) as the only starters in Major League history to win at least 10 games on the road without enduring a single loss.
American League Quick Hits: Luis Severino will not make his scheduled start against the Red Sox on Sunday, but could appear in the game for a few innings out of the bullpen… Erik Gonzalez (head) has been cleared to resume work in the weight room and is expected to be cleared to participate in an intrasquad game on Tuesday… Tigers’ general manager Al Avila hinted that the team may not tender a contract to James McCann this winter… Yan Gomes suffered a contusion and laceration on his right thumb during Saturday's game against the Royals.. He should be ready for the start of the postseason… Eduardo Rodriguez pitched poorly out of the Red Sox’ bullpen in a losing effort against the Yankees, drawing the scorn of manager Alex Cora… Giancarlo Stanton swatted his 38th home run in a win over the Red Sox… D.J. Stewart blasted a game-tying three-run homer in the seventh inning against the Astros, though the Orioles still went on to lose the game… Justin Verlander punched out 10 over six innings of shutout baseball in a tough-luck no-decision. He finished the season with 290 strikeouts… Blake Snell finalized his case for the Cy Young Award with 10 strikeouts over five innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Blue Jays… C.J. Cron belted his 30th home run in that win… Myles Straw launched his first MLB home run as the Astros took the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader against the Orioles… Jose Ramirez slugged his 29th home run in a loss to the Royals… Adalberto Mondesi blasted his 14th home run and stole his 31st base in a win over the Indians. Believe the hype, this kid is going to be a star… Whit Merrifield swiped two more bases in that victory, giving him an MLB-leading 44 swipes on the season… Edwin Diaz recorded his 57th save, tying Bobby Thigpen for the second most in a single season in MLB history… James Paxton fanned nine over six innings of one-run ball in a no-decision against the Rangers… Khris Davis crushed his 48th home run as the Athletics beat the Angels. He’ll enter the final day of the season hitting exactly .247, the same mark he has finished at each of the previous three seasons.
National League Quick Hits: Bud Norris (hamstring) was unavailable on Saturday and is not expected to return this season… Adam Frazier left Saturday’s game with right hamstring tightness… Jordy Mercer left Saturday’s contest with a forearm contusion… Walker Buehler will start for the Dodgers in their regular season finale on Sunday. That means Rich Hill would get the ball in a potential Game 163 should it be required… Yasiel Puig clubbed his 23rd homer as the Dodgers rallied to beat the Giants… Anibal Sanchez racked up seven strikeouts over six shutout frames in a no-decision against the Phillies. He finishes a remarkable season with a 2.83 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over 24 starts… Aaron Nola capped off his tremendous season with eight strikeouts over seven shutout innings in a victory over the Braves, improving to 17-6 on the year… Trevor Richards fanned eight over 6 ⅔ innings of shutout baseball in a no-decision against the Mets… Steven Matz struck out eight over six shutout innings on the other side of that one… Austin Jackson delivered a walk-off RBI double in the 13th inning, leading the Mets to a 1-0 victory there… David Wright went 0-for-1 with a walk and played four innings defensively in his final big league game. He received prolonged cheers and a rousing ovation from the Mets’ faithful and gave a tear-filled speech expressing his thanks for all of their support throughout his career as he lived out his dream… Trea Turner went 3-for-6 with a homer and three RBI as the Nationals trounced the Rockies… Juan Soto homered, doubled and drove in four runs in that rout… Nolan Arenado clubbed his 35th home run in a losing effort there… Eric Hosmer socked his 18th dinger in a loss to the Diamondbacks… Shelby Miller, making his first appearance since July 11, pitched a hitless inning out of the bullpen against the Padres.