If the Milwaukee Brewers are to be successful in 2019, they’re going to need a whole lot more than just Christian Yelich to make that happen.
Christian Yelich is playing like an MVP. What else is new? The Milwaukee Brewers right fielder is one of the best players in baseball and is proving that yet again this year. In 2018, he rode that to an NL Central title and an NLCS berth, along with an MVP award.
However, Yelich playing like he is, is not going to be enough for the Brewers to repeat as NL Central champions, let alone go back to the NLCS with the hopes of making the World Series. They need more than that, but it seems like this team is just dependent on Yelich doing something for things to get done.
All About Yelich
Last year, even before Yelich went on his home run tear, Lorenzo Cain was getting on base in front of him and Yelich was able to drive in plenty of runs because the table was set for him. This year, Cain has regressed offensively, and the lack of production out of the leadoff spot has made a lot more of his home runs of the solo variety.
He hit two home runs in Pittsburgh on Monday night, and guess what, the Brewers won.
The Brewers are 21-13 in games where Yelich hits a home run. When he doesn’t hit a home run, they’re 37-43, six games under .500.
Outside of Yelich, and probably Mike Moustakas, most of the offense has underperformed this year. Jesus Aguilar regressed hard this year and has since been sent to Tampa Bay. Eric Thames has been better than last year, but still not great. Travis Shaw has taken major steps backward at the plate. Orlando Arcia looked like he turned things around, but has struggled this year. Cain is not the same hitter. Braun has been decent, but not his usual self.
Yasmani Grandal has played pretty well but has been in a 18-for-92 (.196) slump over the last month.
The Pitching Takes A Step Back
To make things worse, the pitching has taken a huge step back as well. Pitchers like Corbin Burnes and Freddy Peralta were thought to have huge roles in 2019 and they would take the league by storm. Instead, both have struggled and have been moved to the bullpen, which has eaten at the starting pitching depth.
Jhoulys Chacin has regressed, Zach Davies is really good and then really bad, Jimmy Nelson was back, was not good, and now is hurt again. Corey Knebel is out for the year. Jeremy Jeffress has regressed. Pretty much everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong with this pitching staff.
The Brewers only have two truly healthy starters right now, Chase Anderson, and *gulp* Jordan Lyles. Think about that. A team that is supposed to be fighting for a World Series berth this year only has Chase Anderson and Jordan Lyles in the rotation healthy. Lyles shouldn’t even be in the rotation. He’s only there because there’s no one else that can pitch.
With the pitching as poor as it is, they’re relying on the offense more and more to keep them in games and give them a chance to win. When they’re giving up 5-6+ runs a night, the offense needs to match and beat that output. But the offense is so dependent on Yelich, that they have fragile productivity.
The offense struggles with runners in scoring position. Everyone is going for the home run ball, but the only one that can consistently get the home run ball is Yelich. When he doesn’t get the home run ball, he’s typically the one left stranded on base because no one else on the offense could bring him in.
This 2019 Milwaukee Brewers team at the moment is too reliant on Christian Yelich to have success down the road this year. Yes, he’s the reigning MVP and yes, he’s on his way towards winning another MVP award. As valuable as he is, baseball is a team sport, and he can’t do it alone. There needs to be more production out of the lineup and the pitching staff needs to get themselves in order.
If the Milwaukee Brewers are going to get into the postseason, pitchers are simply going to work around Christian Yelich. If the rest of the offense can’t produce, the Crew won’t make it very far.