MILWAUKEE — Like any hitter in Major League Baseball, there’s a scouting report on Christian Yelich.
Not that’s it’s doing opposing pitchers any good these days.
The Milwaukee Brewers‘ outfielder has been on a tear since the All-Star break, establishing himself as a leading candidate for National League MVP honors. His already-impressive resume was bolstered Monday night when he hit for the cycle for the second time this season as the Brewers kicked off a three-game series with the Reds with an 8-0 rout at Miller Park.
Yelich has homered in three of his last four games and has 13 over the last month while driving in 33 runs during that stretch.
“The impressive thing to me is a team holds him in check yesterday and that seems to be a bad sign the next day for the other team,” Counsell said. “Today before the game, there was an intent that good things are going to happen.”
Good things have happened to Yelich more often than not against the Reds this season. He has at least one hit in 10 of the 12 meetings between the teams this season while posting a .500 average (24-for-48) with seven home runs, 17 RBI and. 1.660 OPS.
“There’s no question that he’s hot right now. He’s doing some amazing things,” said Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who allowed Yelich’s first two hits Monday night.” I know him from Miami. I know that he works his butt off. They all projected that he was going to be a top-of-the-league hitter. But I think if I make my pitches, I give myself a chance to get him out.”
And on top of all that, both of Yelich’s cycles have come against Cincinnati.
“There have been so many great players to play this game,” said Yelich, the fifth player in big league history to record two cycles in a season and the first to do so against the same team. “That just shows how freaky that is and how rare. A lot of luck goes into that. It’s hard enough to get four hits in a major league game, let alone have them all be the right ones, or in the right sequence.”
Last season, Brewers first baseman Eric Thames‘ was the Reds biggest nemesis, hitting 10 home runs against Cincinnati. Yelich, who like Thames is a left-handed hitter, has filled that role this season, but left-handers as a whole have given Cincinnati’s pitchers fits.
“Until we figure out how to get these left-handers out, we’re not going to rise in the division,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said.
Yelich left the ballpark Monday night tied for the National League batting lead with a .318 average, a spot he shares with none other than Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett.
The importance of a player’s batting average has diminished in recent years with the growing popularity of advanced statistics. In fact, the Miller Park scoreboard has displayed a player’s OPS next to his name in the lineup for the last few seasons, but manager Craig Counsell thinks the title still holds some weight in the age of analytics and saber-metrics.
“I think all of those end-of-the season things, there’s a little bit of meaning to them,” Counsell said. “The batting title, it’s not statistically something that’s valued as much, but it’s still an accomplishment and a sign of a great offensive season.”
Lefties have a .284 average this season against Reds right-hander Michael Lorenzen, who gets a start Tuesday for the first time since 2015. He’s faced Milwaukee four times in 2018, allowing four runs (three) earned over 7 1/3 innings of relief.
He posted a 3.21 ERA in 41 appearances this season, most of them covering multiple innings, but was given a chance to start when Tyler Mahle’s shoulder started acting up.
“We feel like, ‘Let’s look at Mike for a start or two and see where it goes,’” Riggleman said. “The problem with that is he does a good job for us where he’s at. We would lose him there. But we are looking at ’19 and who is going to be our starters. We have an idea who some of them will be, but we will look at Mike here a little bit. It’ll be a very small sample, but we’ll get a little feel for it.”
Brewers starter Chase Anderson is 5-1 with a 2.98 ERA in 10 career starts against the Reds including a 3-0 mark and 3.63 ERA in three starts this season.