Home / Sports / Real or not – Christian Yelich already showing 2018 was no fluke

Real or not – Christian Yelich already showing 2018 was no fluke

It is too early to know whether Milwaukee Brewer's acquisition of Christian Yelich from Miami Marlins before the 2018 season will go down as one of the comprehensive amazing lifts, but after a season and four games to early 2019, Brewers general brews manager David Stearns must feel that he entered the Louvre and left with the Mona Lisa.

Yelich homered for the fourth straight game on Sunday, became the sixth player to homer in his first four games and joined Willie Mays, Mark McGwire, Nelson Cruz, Chris Davis and Trevor Story. It was only the first part of his Sunday heroic, when he came to the bottom of the ninth with two runners on and brewing down a run – and made this by the Cardinals closer to Jordan Hicks:

Yelich had a perfect day on Sunday, going 2-on-2 with three walks. He beat .500 in his first series of six runs, eight RBI, six walks and just one strikeout when the brewers took three out of four from Cardinals. It was a nice lift for Milwaukee, which opened the season with closer Corey Knebel and All Star reliever Jeremy Jeffress on the damaged list. Knebel chose Friday to undergo the Tommy John operation.

For a team that relies so heavily on their bullpen last season, it's a big cloud that hangs in the beginning of the season – especially with a tough schedule the first month. At the end of April, Brewers has played three series against Cardinals, two against Dodgers, plus against Reds, Cubs, Angels, Mets and Rockies.

It puts a lot of pressure on Yelich to show its 2018 MVP season was not a fluke. He won almost the Triple Crown thanks to a Babe Ruth-like second half and beat .367 / .449 / .770 with 25 home runs in 65 matches. In September, with a division title at stake, Yelich .370, slugged .804 and ran in 34 races in 27 matches. It was one of the best links in MLB history. Ryan Braun is just a teammate in anxiety of Yelich right now:

What makes Yelich trade such a steal so far – we see how the four prospects (Lewis Brinson, Monte Harrison, Isan Diaz, Jordan Yamamoto) Marlins got a pan, but the early return has not been good – not just gets an MVP but acquires a MVP on a legally rewarding salary. Yelich signed a seven-year extension with Marlins back in 2015 and earned $ 7 million in his MVP season. He will make $ 9.75 million this season and by 2020 – which would have been his first off-season – he will make $ 12.5 million. The brewers will have him through 2022 for another $ 29 million, probably less than he would have received on an annual basis as a free agent.

Apart from Yelich's performance, the other major positive effects for Milwaukee this weekend came from Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, both of whom entered the rotation after rising primarily from the bullfoot last year. Woodruff, on the heels of a big spring training, had a solid first outing, which allowed two runs in five innings in the Saturday win. Burns were sometimes electric sometimes on Sunday with 12 strikes in five innings, but he also served three home runs – and they want cheap. The spin rate on his four-sided fastball was on average 2,912 rpm, the highest speed ever recorded for a starter, an important reason why he induced 18 swing-and-miss. He has a chance to be very good.

So it was a good first weekend for Brewers. Here are some other observations from our first four action days:

Mariners dabbed Red Sox entrees: The whole series looks like bad college baseball from the blossom of the juiced-up aluminum bat era. The Mariners scored 28 runs in 15 innings of Red Sox starters, winning three out of four, including a 10-8 victory on Sunday. There was nothing spotty about these results either. All four beginners – Chris Sale, Nathan Eovaldi, Eduardo Rodriguez and Rick Porcello – were hit hard. The sale lasted only three innings in the opener and served seven runs on six hits and three home runs, all rockets. The other three entrees were not much better. Starter ERA at 13.20 is the worst of four games in any team over the past 10 years. Here is Omar Narvaez sweating a three-run shot by Porcello on Sunday:

The marinas are 5-1, but they should actually have swept the series. They blew a 6-1 lead in the second game when Mitch Moreland hit a three-run homer in the ninth of Hunter Strickland (who then landed on the damaged list) and Seattle also tried to blow the two closest games. In Saturday's 6-5 victory they led 6-2 into ninth when rookie third baseman Dylan Moore made three consecutive bugs with two outs – two throws and one started grounder – before Nick Rumbelow finally knocked out Xander Bogaerts to finish it. On Sunday, the marines led 10-7 in ninth when relievers Cory Gearrin and Chasen Bradford went four batters before Bradford finally kicked Christian Vazquez and Jackie Bradley Jr. based.

It was a horrible first series for the defending champions, but no reason to sweat. As Alex Cora said after the match for their entrees, "we will be fine." The marinas have a chance to be interesting after this start, but the bullpen is comically bad and the starters will not run deep enough into games to avoid these relievers.

Some good pitching performances! It wasn't It isn't ugly. Here are some of the good pitching outings that stood out:

• The rays took three out of four from Astros and hold Houston for four runs over the last three games. Tyler Glasnow is a popular breakout pick after throwing himself far down at the end of last season after trading with Pittsburgh and he held Astros for a run in five innings on Saturday, averaging 96.6 mph with his fastball and beating 100 twice to George Springer to start the game. (Someone was pumped up.)

On Sunday, the rays fired the opening strategy and instead Yonny Chirinos started and let him go seven innings in a 3-1 win. The rays had planned to use an opener, but the bullpen had been heavily taxed the first three games, so Kevin Cash used Chirinos as a traditional starter. Don't expect the rays to give up on the opener.

"We'll keep our versatility," Cash said. "We do not try to measure, as if you are doing so well, we shall let you start. It is not so. We think our best matches are when we can be versatile across the pitching staff."

The secret weapons of the rays are flame-throwing relievers Diego Castillo and Jose Alvarado, who give Cash two relatively unknown but potentially dominant lateral weapons. This first series was an early signal to the rest of the American League: Rays can play.

• Padres youngsters were impressed to take three out of four against the giants. Yes, it was the giants, but keeping one team to five runs in four matches is a fantastic run through the rotation. Padres also had a surprise start on Saturday when they bought the contract from leftist Nick Margevicius, who beat Class A last season. He kept the giants in one in five innings (even though he got the tag with the loss). Margevicius is a command lefty that doesn't even run MLB.com or Baseball America's top 30 Padres prospects – but here he is, skipping Double-A and Triple-A.

Meanwhile, Chris Paddack was announced on Sunday knocking out seven in five innings and holding the giants to two hits and one run. He was almost exclusively due to his fast-paced and plus-plus change, throwing only six curves among his 79 seats.

• Trevor Bauer is a popular Cy Young pick – I'm pretty sure he would choose to win it – and he showed why when he held the twins to a hit in seven innings on Saturday. The twins took two out of three in the series, but beat Carlos Carrasco on Sunday and see Michael Pineda throw four scoring solutions – with an effective 40 seats – in his official return from the Tommy John operation. Pineda beat 95 in the spring training, but mostly sat 89-91 with her four-seaman Sunday. It was 34 degrees during game time, so I would not read too much in these radar readings, and instead see Pineda's excursion as a potentially big positive for Twins.

And then we had the Cubs: And back to the difficult side of the pitching book, it was Yu Darvish's start on Saturday, a totally outrageous achievement when he went seven firecrackers in 2-part innings and threw 75 seats, just 38 for strike. Since he fled jam for the first two innings, he looked like he had a chance to be the first starter since Jeff Suppan in 2004 to go 10 in a game. Oh, Joe Maddon came with the hook. Yes, the first start page applies here, but based on Darvishs 2018 it is an early red flag.

Cube kids stopped losing that game when Rangers did five runs late outside the bullpen. That was bad. Then came Sunday. Cubs pitchers went six more strokes in a 11-10 loss and here's how the winning race did:

Jesse Rogers has more on the Cubs debacle.

Finally … We give you the first of many: Bryce Harper's first home run for Phillies came on Saturday, a 465-foot blast that goes down as Harper's second longest of his career via Statcast: [19659003] Bryce Harper's first homer in a Phillies uni was a ROCKET 🚀 (via @Phillies ) pic.twitter.com/cu476JYSbf

– SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 30, 2019

Harper struck a second bomb Sunday evening when Philly finished a sweep of the Braves.

And thus we release our first "Real or Not" from the 2019 season. It's good to have baseball back on our brains.

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