As expected, the Mariners have released Jack Cust after designating him for assignment last week.
Cust is owed another $1 million for so as part of a one-year, $2.5 million contract, so predictably none of the other 29 teams wanted to take on that salary after he hit just .213 with three homers and a .673 OPS in 67 games for the Mariners.
Cust was once an underrated hitter, providing good value despite low batting averages and high strikeout totals because he drew tons of walks, got on base at a strong clip, and hit 25-30 homers. However, his power has vanished in the past two years.
He might still be a useful left-handed bench bat for teams that miss out on picking up, say, Jason Giambi before the August 31 waiver trade deadline, but Cust’s lack of defensive skills make him a pretty marginal player if he’s not hitting for power to go along with all the walks.
Christian Yelich simply can’t be stopped. The Brewers outfielder (and defending NL MVP) entered Saturday’s game with a league-leading 11 home runs after swatting two against the Dodgers on Friday night, then clubbed another two homers in the first six innings of Saturday’s game.
The first came on a 2-1 pitch from the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, who lobbed a changeup toward the bottom of the strike zone before it was lifted up and out to center field for a solo home run in the third inning.
While Chase Anderson and Alex Claudio held down the fort against the Dodgers’ lineup, Yelich prepared for his second blast in the sixth inning — this one a 421-foot double-decker on a first-pitch curveball from Ryu.
Yelich’s 13 home runs not only gave him a stronger grip on the league’s leaderboard, but helped him tie yet another franchise record, too. Per MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy, he’s tied with Prince Fielder for the most home runs hit by a Brewers player in a single month, and sits just one home run shy of tying Álex Rodríguez’s 2007 record for most home runs hit within any club’s first 22 games of the season.
It may be far too early to predict which players will finish first in the MVP races this fall, but there’s no denying Yelich has already set himself apart from the competition. Through Saturday’s performance, he’s batting .361/.459/.880 with a 1.329 OPS and MLB-best 31 RBI across 98 PA so far.