Christian Yelich didn’t waste any time putting the Brewers on the board as the team kicked off Game 7 of the NLCS on Saturday. After going homer-less since Game 1 of the NLDS, Yelich pounced on a 98.4-MPH fastball from the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler and plunked it over the center field fence for a 1-0 lead in the first inning:
While Yelich put up monster numbers during the regular season, including a .326/.402/.598 batting line, 36 home runs, and a 1.000 OPS, his power all but evaporated during the Brewers’ postseason run. Entering Saturday’s game, he’s collected just two extra bases — a two-run homer in Game 1 of the NLDS and a double in Game 6 of the NLCS — and maintained a sluggish .188 average over nine games so far.
Rookie Buehler has been a relatively easy target for batters in the playoffs after allowing a cumulative nine runs and two homers over his last two appearances. Things might get a little more tricky for the Brewers should Clayton Kershaw take the mound tonight; as Dodgers’ skipper Dave Roberts told reporters earlier today, Kershaw will be ready to step out of the bullpen at the first sign of trouble. For what it’s worth, however, playoff teams that score first have gone 21-6 this fall (h/t MLB Stat of the Day).
The Brewers currently trail 2-1 in the second following Cody Bellinger‘s two-RBI blast off of Jhoulys Chacín in the top of the inning.
The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Nicholas Castellanos to a four-year deal worth $64 million. The contract includes opt-outs after both 2020 and 2021, which is certainly good for Castellanos, allowing him to go back out on the market if he has a big year. Odd that the Reds would agree to that, but on an annual basis it’s kind of a bargain for them so you figure that has something to do with it.
With Castellanos in the fold the Reds are going to have a lot of outfielders when they hit Goodyear, Arizona in a couple of weeks, with newcomer Shogo Akiyama, Jesse Winkler, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Travis Jankowski, Scott Schebler, and Rule 5 draftee Mark Payton already on the roster. Senzel was an infielder before last year, of course, so he could move back to the dirt, perhaps taking over short from Freddy Galvis, who could be dealt. Alternatively, the Reds could trade from their newfound outfield surplus.
Castellanos, however, will have left field to himself. While he’s shaky at best with the glove, he had a breakout year at the plate in 2019, hitting .289/.337/.525 overall (OPS+ 121), but slugging at a blistering .321/.356/.646 pace (OPS+ 151) after being traded from the Tigers to the Cubs. In Chicago — rescued from cavernous Comerica Park — his big doubles power turned into big homer power.
Now that he’ll be playing in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark one can only imagine the damage he’d do.