Christian Yelich Back This Week For Brewers

MLB Rumors: Christian Yelich Back This Week For Brewers, But Josh Hader Out

The Milwaukee Brewers have a huge lead in the NL Central Division and are unlikely to give that up regardless as they are -1000 favorites on the MLB odds, but the Brewers’ lineup could be fortified as early as Thursday with the potential return of former NL MVP Christian Yelich from the COVID list. However, closer Josh Hader is on that list.

MLB Milwaukee Brewers | Christian Yelich will return this week?

Yelich will undergo COVID testing Wednesday and is expected to be activated Thursday following the 10-day minimum even after experiencing minor COVID-19 symptoms. It is possible the Brewers may elect to give their slugger a few extra days to get back in the swing of things, potentially pushing his return to the field back until the weekend.

Yelich is having a down year overall, but also was on the 10-day injured list twice with a lower back strain: 4/17-5/2 (retroactive to 4/14) and 5/4-5/17. In July in 67 at-bats, Yelich posted a slashline of .209/.329/.299 and totaled as many bases in the month as he had strikeouts (20). Along with the lack of hits he totaled, his power numbers are way down after only hitting one home run in 19 games. He looks like a shell of his old self right now. That the Brewers are leading the division by so much without him is a good sign as he can only get better. In his career, during the months of August/September/October he has a career average of .297.

Meanwhile, the Brewers have put their All-Star closer Hader on the COVID list. Hader was tested as a result of the intake process that greets players on game days. When he reported being in close contact with an individual who had COVID-like symptoms, that triggered a test. Hader tested positive. The Brewers elected not to share Hader’s vaccination status. They were among the earliest teams to reach the 85 percent vaccination threshold in May, allowing for relaxed protocols in public spaces.

It’s been another dominant season for the 21-year-old Hader, who has pitched to a sterling 1.83 ERA while striking out 45 percent of his opponents against a 9.4 percent walk rate through 39 1/3 innings thus far in 2021. His 445 strikeouts (262.0 innings) since 2017 are the most of any Major League reliever. He was the fastest pitcher in Major League history to reach 400 career strikeouts (234.2 IP). Hader was named NL Reliever of the Month for June, making 11 scoreless appearances with 8 saves (11ip, 3h, 4bb, 18k). He’ll be out a minimum of 10 days.

To boost their bullpen, the Brewers this week made a trade in landing John Axford from the Blue Jays on Monday for $1. The MLB Trade Deadline passed last week, but clubs may still swap players on Minor League contracts who were not on a 40-man roster at any point this season, as was the case with Axford.

The 38-year-old Axford was a former All-Star closer – his 48 saves in 2011 are a Brewers record — who had not pitched in the Majors since 2018 before throwing an inning Monday. He retired only one of the five batters he faced and walked in a run, ultimately being charged with two runs. To make matters worse, Hader was removed with an elbow injury.

“It’s not the way you want it to go,” Manager Craig Counsell said. “It’s unfortunate. The fact that he got himself back here was a real credit to him. You want the story to be good every night. Sometimes, there’s some unfortunate stories as well.”

Brewers relievers have a 2.72 ERA since July 1, the top bullpen ERA in the NL and third-best mark in the majors. At some point this week, Counsell will become the sixth active manager to reach 500 wins with their current club. He is second in franchise history in wins, trailing Phil Garner (563-617).

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