Addition of Lorenzo Cain, Christian Yelich paved way for playoff berth
MILWAUKEE — Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain had no idea they were about to become teammates before Jan. 25.
That was the day the Milwaukee Brewers traded four minor leaguers to the Miami Marlins for Yelich and then reached an agreement to sign Cain as a free agent.
That would turn out to be a pivotal day for the Brewers franchise as the two outfielders would spearhead their run to the National League Central title.
And while Yelich didn’t know that Cain would be joining him at the time of the trade, he did receive a little hint that something else may be coming.
“They said stay tuned, we might have some more exciting news coming later today,” Yelich said of the phone call he received informing him of the trade. “I didn’t know what it was, obviously, and when you get traded it’s a little bit hectic and crazy afterwards. But I saw that Lo ended up signing over here and I was really excited.”
Although Cain began his career in the Brewers organization, he had spent seven seasons in the American League with the Kansas City Royals and didn’t know all that much about Yelich.
“But I could tell the first day of spring training, just watching his swing, how consistent it was, driving the ball to all fields,” Cain said. “Long and lengthy, he has power to all fields. He’s been dominant out there. Definitely nice to have him on our team.”
Yelich all but wrapped up the National MVP award with a sensational second half of the season, hitting .367 with 25 homers. He led the Brewers’ charge to the title in September, hitting .352 with 10 homers and a .500 on-base percentage.
“What an all-around great player,” said Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black, who hadn’t met Yelich until this year’s All-Star Game. “The second half has been phenomenal, what he’s done. That tells you a lot about a player, what they do when the stakes are the highest.”
While the Brewers are opening with a bullpen day, the Rockies are taking a more traditional approach to the NLDS, even though their top two starting pitchers won’t be available the first two days.
After using German Marquez in Game 163 on Monday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and ace Kyle Freeland in the wild card game against the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday, Black named Antonio Senzatela as his starter for today’s series opener at Miller Park. The 23-year-old right-hander had a 6-6 record with a 4.38 ERA this season.
Black said he was leaning toward lefty Tyler Anderson (7-9, 4.55) for Game 2 on Friday, with Freeland and Marquez for the next two games in Denver.
Brewers manager Craig Counsell may have grown up around the Brewers, but he began his professional career with the Rockies.
Counsell was part of the Rockies’ first draft class, being selected in the 11th round of the 1992 amateur draft. He came up through the Rockies farm system and made his major league debut with Colorado in 1995 but had just one at-bat in four games moving on to the Florida Marlins.
“I think there are definitely some connections there and memories there,” said Counsell, noting that Paul Egans, who scouted him at Notre Dame, was still part of the organization. “I think seeing something at the start was always interesting. It’s an organization I keep tabs on because I did have a part in it and was a part of it for a long time.”