Yelich blasted a trio of home runs in the Brewers’ victory, hitting a three-run home run in the second inning, another three-run homer in the sixth and a solo shot in the eighth. The seven RBI set a new career high for the reigning National League MVP.
St. Louis would probably be wise to pitch around Yelich going forward when the game is in doubt. After going deep in each of the four games against the Cards in the first series of the season, he has now followed that up with the first three-homer game of his career. That’s right, seven of Yelich’s eight home runs this season have come versus the Cardinals. He’s “only” hitting .286/.345/.408 with one bomb in 12 contests against other teams.
Dating back to the All-Star break of last season, Yelich is hitting an astounding .364 with 33 home runs and 89 RBI over 82 contests. Only Khris Davis – he of the three straight 40-homer seasons and league-leading 10 bombs this year – has gone deep more times over that stretch with 37 dingers.
Yelich seemed like a good bet for some power regression this year after he homered on an absurd 35 percent of his flyballs last season. It could still happen, of course. It’s early. However, it’s noteworthy how much Yelich has upped his flyball rate in 2019, as it sat at 35.3 percent going into Monday’s game. That’s over 10 percent higher than the career high for a guy known as a groundball-heavy hitter. He’s also hitting the ball harder than ever with a 54.9 percent hard-hit rate going into Monday.
Sounds like it’s time to get back in the cage and work on your swing, Christian.
Puig’s Power Not Enough
Puig had a flair for the dramatic in a return to his old stomping grounds, taking Kershaw deep with a two-run blast in his former teammate’s first inning back from the injured list. He also added a single, giving him back-to-back games with a home run and back-to-back games with multiple hits for the first time this season.
It wasn’t enough, though. Another former Dodger, Matt Kemp, put the Reds ahead in the top of the ninth inning with a two-out RBI single off of Kenley Jansen. But Raisel Iglesias then walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the ninth before serving up a walk-off, two-run dinger to Joc Pederson.
Aside from the Puig long ball, Kershaw looked about as good as could be expected in his season debut. He finished the night allowing just the two runs on five hits and no walks to go along with six strikeouts over seven innings. He needed just 84 pitches to complete his seven frames. Kershaw averaged 90.1 mph and topped out at 91.3 mph with his fastball, and he induced 14 whiffs on his 84 pitches.
The Dodgers also got some more good news after the game. Cody Bellinger had to leave the contest after being drilled on the right knee by a 96 mph Luis Castillo fastball, but X-rays came back negative and he should avoid the injured list.
Editor’s Note: Stay ahead of the competition from wire to wire with rankings, customizable projections, trade evaluator, exclusive columns and more in our Season Pass. And start using optimized lineups on Yahoo!, DraftKings and FanDuel with our DFS Toolkit!.
Roadblock for Robertson
The veteran reliever was placed on the 10-day injured list Monday with soreness in his right elbow, revealing that he’s been experiencing discomfort in the elbow off and on since spring training. He insisted that that’s, as a general rule, “not out of the ordinary,” but this time around he says “the irritation has gotten to be a lot.”
For what it’s worth, Robertson believes it’s a flexor tendon issue. We’ll know more after he has an MRI on Tuesday.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Robertson said. “It’s on my flexor tendon, it’s where it feels like it is. I’ve had this issue before. It’s been years ago since I’ve had it flare up this bad.”
Phillies manager Gabe Kapler likes to play bullpen roulette, as the team has notched three saves this season and they’ve gone to three different relievers. Two of the relievers that have recorded saves – Hector Neris and Pat Neshek – are expected to be in the mix to close with Robertson out. Seranthony Dominguez – who led the team with 16 saves last season – is also a candidate to close.
Ultimately, it could continue to be a frustrating situation for fantasy owners to attempt to figure out. Nine different relievers picked up saves in 2018 in Kapler’s first season at the helm.
Of course, if Phillies ownership is willing to spend some more of that “stupid” money, they could pony up for a bona-fide closer in Craig Kimbrel, who remains dangling on the free agent market. Philly was listed as a possible landing spot for Kimbrel over the offseason, although they haven’t been connected to him for a while. Perhaps that will change if Robertson doesn’t receive a favorable diagnosis.
National League Quick Hits: Ian Desmond went 2-for-4 with a homer, double and three RBI in a win over the Padres on Monday. … Antonio Senzatela allowed just one run over 6 2/3 innings while picking up a victory on Monday against the Padres in his return from the IL. … Brandon Nimmo homered and walked three times Monday as the Mets edged the Phillies in 11 innings. … Maikel Franco went 2-for-5 and hit a two-run homer Monday against the Mets. … Paul Goldschmidt went 2-for-3 with a homer and two walks Monday against the Brewers. … Willson Contreras went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBI as the Cubs beat the Marlins on Monday. … Chris Iannetta landed on the IL Monday with a right lat strain. … Reds prospect Nick Senzel (ankle) played three innings in center field and had two at-bats in an extended spring training game Monday.
American League Quick Hits: Mike Trout (groin) walked three times and scored a pair of runs in his return to the lineup Monday. … Francisco Lindor (ankle) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Columbus on Tuesday. … Joey Gallo went 3-for-5 with a homer and two RBI on Monday in the Rangers' victory over the Angels on Monday. … Jose Ramirez hit his first homer of the season and reached base three times Monday in Seattle. … Kole Calhoun went 3-for-5 with a homer and two runs scored on Monday in a loss to the Rangers … Trevor Bauer fanned eight over 6 2/3 frames of one-run ball versus the Mariners. … Teoscar Hernandez went 3-for-4 with a three-run homer Monday to lead the Blue Jays to a win over the Twins. … Hunter Dozier went 2-for-3 with a homer and a walk in a loss to the White Sox on Monday. … Shohei Ohtani (elbow) was cleared to face live pitching in a week after visiting the doctor on Monday. … Jason Kipnis was activated from the IL Monday. … Tyler Skaggs (ankle) landed on the IL Monday but hopes for a minimum stay. … Billy Hamilton (knee) was hitless but stole a base in his return to action Monday. … Dwight Smith Jr. finished 2-for-5 with four RBI in the Orioles' win over the Red Sox on Monday.