Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs have released left-hander Dontrelle Willis and right-hander Hayden Simpson.
Willis came out of retirement to attempt a comeback this spring, but he had to leave his first appearance on February 25 due to shoulder tightness and didn’t pitch in another Cactus League game. This could be the end of the road for him.
While we ask what could have been with Willis, Simpson never was able to match the hype attached to being the No. 16 overall pick in 2010. It wasn’t all his fault, as the Cubs overdrafted him because they weren’t willing to spend on higher quality talent. While a lengthy bout with mononucleosis didn’t do any favors for his development, Simpson posted an ugly 6.42 ERA over 30 starts and 26 relief appearances with Chicago’s minor league system.
Michael Brenly, the son of former Cubs broadcaster Bob Brenly, was also given his release today. The 26-year-old backstop owns a .251/.306/.334 batting line over five seasons in the minors.
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.