Christian Yelich could be returning to form just in time for the Milwaukee Brewers, who face the visiting Washington Nationals in the rubber match of a three-game series on Sunday.
Yelich homered twice, including a grand slam, and drove in six runs in Saturday’s 9-6 victory as Milwaukee won for the ninth time in its last 12 games.
The 2018 National League MVP entered the game hitting .238 with six homers, but he is batting .350 with five extra-base hits in his last 10 games.
Yelich homered for the first time since July 18 in the first inning Saturday and deposited a 454-foot blast to right-center field in the eighth for his first multi-homer game since Aug. 17, 2019.
Yadiel Hernandez belted his sixth homer for the Nationals, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.
Washington is turning to left-hander Sean Nolin (0-1, 12.00 ERA) for the series finale. The 31-year-old rookie is making his second straight start in place of Joe Ross (right elbow).
Nolin last pitched on Aug. 12, when he allowed four runs on eight hits over three innings in a 4-1 loss to the New York Mets.
The start marked his first appearance in the majors since Oct. 3, 2015 as a member of the Oakland Athletics.
“He surprised me a lot,” manager Dave Martinez said. “They told me he didn’t throw very hard, but he throws anywhere from 91 to 93 (mph), sometimes can top out at 94. But he has a good mix of pitches — he throws curveballs, sliders, cutters, changeups — so I’m interested to see him.”
Nolin was recalled from Triple-A Rochester after posting a 3-3 record with a 3.80 ERA over 11 appearances (nine starts).
Milwaukee will counter with Adrian Houser (7-5, 3.55 ERA), who is rejoining the rotation after finishing his 10-day quarantine for COVID-19.
The 28-year-old right-hander last pitched on Aug. 3, when he left the game with a no-hitter and a 4-0 lead against Pittsburgh. He received a no-decision after throwing 104 pitches and giving up one run over 6 1/3 innings.
Houser is 4-0 with a 2.83 ERA in his last 12 games (10 starts) across 60 1/3 innings.
Opponents are batting .236 against Houser, who is 0-0 and owns a 1.00 ERA in two career starts covering nine innings against the Nationals.
Houser is expected to have a limited pitch count in his return to action, which could lead manager Craig Counsell to rely on his stellar bullpen.
Reliever Devin Williams pitched a scoreless eighth inning Saturday and has not allowed an earned run in his last 18 appearances.
The Brewers’ depth will be tested again after outfielder Tyrone Taylor was placed on the 10-day injured list with a strained right oblique.
Taylor, who is batting .245 with 10 home runs and 37 RBIs, exited Friday’s game with the injury and is expected to miss three to four weeks.
“He’s been a quality producer and performer for this team, absolutely,” Counsell said. “We’ve counted on him. When we’ve counted on him, we haven’t always expected to, but there’s certainly been times where he’s really delivered and been a big part of this offense.
Taylor’s absence could result in a larger role for utilityman Jace Peterson, who is batting .270 with five homers in 159 at-bats.
–Field Level Media