With Christian Yelich set to miss the rest of the season due to injury, who’s going to replace him in the Milwaukee Brewers lineup?
The news on Tuesday night was devastating to the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers were in the midst of a late season surge, winning their fifth game in a row after defeating the Miami Marlins 4-3. Yet, for all of the momentum that the Brewers seemed to be building towards a late season surge into the playoffs, it all felt lost just minutes after the game concluded.
Christian Yelich, the reigning league MVP and contender for this season’s award, is set to miss the remainder of the season after fracturing his knee cap on a foul ball during his first at-bat Tuesday night.
With Yelich out, who will be called upon to step up in his place in right field?
Who Stands to Gain the Most?
Out of Milwaukee’s current crop of outfielders who aren’t regular starters, he strikes the best balance between offense, defense, and upside. Grisham has been good for 0.2 fWAR entering play on Tuesday night in his 32 games since getting called up.
Grisham had scuffled a bit at the plate before Monday’s five hit performance. However, he had shown some promise before that when he was getting regular at-bats during the last injury absence that Christian Yelich had in August. His season slash line stands at a respectable .263/.324/.455 after Tuesday with four home runs and 13 RBIs.
From an offensive standpoint, his bat provides more upside than that of Ben Gamel, or any of Milwaukee’s other natural outfield options outside of Ryan Braun. Grisham’s WRC+ (99) is just a point below league average in just over 100 total at-bats while Gamel’s currently sits at just 86 on the season in nearly 200 more at-bats. He hasn’t quite gotten to the level of his minor league production from this season, but he has the tools to produce at an above-average level offensively at the MLB level.
Grisham has also shown flashes of being a decent defender in his short time up. His Defensive Runs Saved is in positive territory (one) at the moment, though some of his other underlying defensive numbers suggest he may not be a net positive in the field. Milwaukee will be fielding two below average arms in the corners if they’re going to play Braun and Grisham together. That could be an issue for their defense.
He won’t be Christian Yelich. Almost no one the league could replace his production. However, Trent Grisham should be able to do a serviceable job if he’s given the bulk of Yelich’s playing time. He has the skills to be a good MLB player, and he’s shown some early signs of being that since getting called up.
Who Else Could Get More Playing Time?
Beyond Grisham, a few other players stand to benefit from Yelich’s absence.
With Braun and Lorenzo Cain both struggling to stay healthy as well, the Milwaukee Brewers will need another outfielder who can play regularly in case those two can’t. This may make Gamel close to an everyday starter for the rest of the season as a rotation option who slots in when someone else isn’t available.
Recent call-up, Tyrone Taylor, may factor in, too. He was on a great late-season run in Triple-A after finally getting healthy. The Brewers would be wise to get a look at him in some meaningful games to see what he can do.
The Brewers may also experiment with playing one of their infielders in the corners. Milwaukee may push Eric Thames out to the corner, especially if Mike Moustakas can get AND stay healthy for the remainder of the season. Their need for offense right now likely overrides any defensive concerns that come with such a move.
Milwaukee could also play infielders Hernan Perez and Cory Spangenberg out there, though both are filling holes in the infield with Keston Hiura and Mike Moustakas out, and Orlando Arcia struggling. Neither are producing enough offensively to justify playing in that role, either, even if they are available to do so.
Losing Christian Yelich is very likely to be fatal to the Milwaukee Brewers hopes of doing anything meaningful this season. However, it will still be intriguing to see how their replacements can do in his absence. They’ll be holding out hope that someone’s ready to break out and be a star in their time of crisis. We’ll see if anyone is up to the task.