Brewers' Christian Yelich faces former team, Marlins

By Andrew Wagner, The Sports Xchange  |  April 18, 2018 at 11:28 PM
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Christian Yelich thought he was going to be part of the group that led the Miami Marlins back to relevance in the National League.

Then new ownership, led by future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, orchestrated yet another rebuilding project in South Florida that sent away the two players Yelich believed would be part of that process.

As a result, Yelich also sought a way out and landed in Milwaukee, where he and the Brewers will welcome his former team Thursday night to open a four-game weekend series.

Yelich, 23, got off to a torrid start for the Brewers. He batted an even .500 during Milwaukee's season-opening series against the Padres and tied his career high with a five-hit game on March 31.

A strained oblique sidelined him for 12 games, and he returned to action Wednesday, going 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in Milwaukee's 2-0 victory over the Reds.

Yelich will be back in manager Craig Counsell's starting lineup again Thursday.

That's good news for the Brewers, who have been struggling at the plate this season. Through their victory Wednesday, the Brewers are batting .239 and are 12th in the National League with 64 runs scored.

"Those guys are going to get going," Counsell said of his offensive group. "We'll get these guys going. We've got a lot of good hitters so I'm confident that we're going to get something going here."

The offense has shown signs of life the last few days, especially first baseman Eric Thames, who has homered in two straight games and has seven on the season.

Pitching has kept Milwaukee afloat through Yelich's absence and while the offense worked through its slump.

Chase Anderson (1-1, 2.82 ERA) will try to keep that going Thursday after holding the Mets to just a run over 6 1/3 innings his last time out.

Anderson has allowed six home runs this season but is holding opposing hitters to a .192 average.

He is 2-2 with a 3.86 ERA in five career starts against the Marlins but has not faced them since 2016.

The Marlins bring a National League-worst 5-13 mark into the series but went into an off-day Wednesday on a high-note after snapping a three-game losing streak a night earlier with a 9-1 victory over the Yankees.

Like Milwaukee with Yelich, the Marlins also got a boost when catcher J.T. Realmuto made his season debut Tuesday

One of the few players to survive the latest fire sale, Realmuto suffered a bruised back in spring training and began the season on the disabled list.

"It's good to have him back because it puts guys kind of in their spots," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "When you know J.T. is back in there, it puts less pressure on other guys."

He had two hits in the victory over the Yankees, including a three-run home run off Masahiro Tanaka.

"Hopefully, the spark lasts a lot longer than one game," Realmuto said. "With these young guys, you can see they don't get their heads down. They wash it away with their shower that night and the next day they're coming in hungry ready to go try and win a ballgame."

Left-hander Dillon Peters (2-1, 6.75) gets the ball for Miami in the series opener. He worked six innings his last time out, holding the Pirates to just two runs while getting the win.

His lone career appearance against the Brewers came last season and didn't go well. Peters allowed eight runs on nine hits and three walks, striking out four over 3 2/3 innings of work.

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