With their final road series of the season set to start and the potential to officially clinch a playoff spot, the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this afternoon released their starting lineup for tonight's game against the Marlins. On it was a name that was a sight for sore eyes.
Christian Yelich, the Crew's leader and former NL MVP, is back in the lineup for Friday night's contest on the road in Miami. And once again he is occupying his regular leadoff spot in the batting order.
Yelich is not returning from an injured list stint but had missed several games in recent weeks. Prior to today, he had played in just one of the last 13 Brewers games, that one being a home contest against the Nationals in which he left in the eighth inning of a close ballgame.
Christian Yelich makes his return to the Brewers lineup tonight, batting leadoff.
In the years following the freak knee injury that caused his 2019 season to prematurely come to an end, Yelich sent through a series of nagging back injuries, some causing him to miss somewhat significant time. For most of the beginning of the 2023 season, however, he appeared to be largely healthy.
As a result, he was finally starting to look more like himself for the first time in years. At one point he was even at his early 2018 MVP pace, but even when he slowed down slightly he was still performing as one of the better players in the National League.
But then in August, things started cool down even further. Though he was still getting hits and getting on base, the extra base hits started disappearing and his slugging percentage ended up dropping nearly 30 points over the course of the month. There was no talk of a back injury at this point, but the drop off in big hits was apparent.
The trend continued into September and then after a September 8th win against the Yankees, Yelich was absent from the lineup with the back issues flaring up a bit. He would make progress in days afterward with the team saying that they were seeing encouraging signs, but with each passing day (with the exception of that Nationals game on the 15th) he was still on the bench, yet not on the IL.
And it was likely the Brewers' success in September that allowed the team to continue being cautious with his injury and sitting him. While Yelich took time to get right, the Crew kept on winning, which left no need to rush him back. Now, the team's best player will hopefully be fully healthy as they embark on a 2023 playoff run.
Soon, the focus for the Brewers will shift to preparing for the upcoming postseason. All that matters is that Yelich be ready to lead the team into battle once that time comes.