Christian Yelich
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Video: Christian Yelich decorates three-hit night with home run no. 44

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Brewers slugger and reigning NL MVP Christian Yelich further cemented his status as a member of the 40+ home run club on Friday, collecting home run no. 44 during a 7-1 rout of the Cubs.

With a pair of base hits rounding out his performance, Yelich turned in his first multi-hit game of the month and 46th such game of the year. In the bottom of the third inning, he lifted a 3-2 changeup from Cole Hamels and belted it well over the right field fence to put the Brewers on the board.

With all three hits accounted for, the 27-year-old All-Star still has some of the highest marks in the league. He finished Friday’s win batting .326/.421/.672 with 44 homers, a 1.093 OPS, and a near- career-high 6.9 fWAR through 560 plate appearances.

Right now, only five other players can boast membership in the 40-homer club this season: Mike Trout (45), Pete Alonso (45), Cody Bellinger (44), Eugenio Suárez (42), and Jorge Soler (40). Yelich will likely continue to battle Alonso and Bellinger for an NL-best home run record as the last month of the regular season unfolds, as the three have been neck-and-neck for quite some time. (Of course, it’s not out of the question to assume he might get ahead of both Trout and Alonso to lay claim to the home run title across both leagues, too.)

With their win over the Cubs, the Brewers took one step forward in the race for a wild card berth this fall. They’re now 4.0 games behind either wild card spot in the National League — not an insurmountable distance to close in the next few weeks, but one that will be made a little tougher by the current position of the Nationals, Cubs, Diamondbacks, Mets, and Phillies.

Freddie Freeman has elbow surgery

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Freddie Freeman‘s elbow began barking in the second half of the season and he was a shadow of himself in the month of September. The Braves rested him for half a minute in the season’s final week but he still played 158 games in 2019. They said he was good to go for the NLDS but he was clearly limited, going 4-for-22 in the Braves’ series loss to the Cardinals.

Today the Braves announced that Freeman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Wednesday. The team said today that the procedure involved the removal of three fragmented loose bodies and the cleaning up of multiple bone spur formations.

It’s not clear if more rest down the stretch would’ve made a difference for him — and it’s not clear that the Braves had options at first base for the postseason that were substantially better than even a limited Freeman — but it’s clear that not having Freeman feeling like himself in the heart of the order was a problem.

Freeman is expected to be good-to-go for spring training.