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A theory behind Yelich's power surge

Bench coach suggests Sedar's BP has helped reigning NL MVP
@AdamMcCalvy
March 31, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy has a theory about Christian Yelich's late-season surge to the 2018 National League MVP Award. It involves a humble player eager to please a coach with a lot of miles on his right arm. “Just my own theory,” said Murphy before the Brewers

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy has a theory about Christian Yelich's late-season surge to the 2018 National League MVP Award. It involves a humble player eager to please a coach with a lot of miles on his right arm.

“Just my own theory,” said Murphy before the Brewers finished their season-opening series against the Cardinals at Miller Park. “I want to be clear about that.”

Noted.

Yelich homers in fourth straight game to tie record

Murphy’s theory centers around Yelich’s daily batting practice with third-base coach Ed Sedar.

“Late in the year, Eddie developed some cut on his heater,” Murphy said. “Eddie throws every day for 28 years. Every day. He’s got great BP. He throws firm, he throws up, and it started to cut. A lot of guys ... didn’t want to face it. I’m not going to say who.

“’Yeli’, being the human being he is, would never want to disappoint his outfield coach. So he hung in there and was facing this cutter coming up and in. And it started clearing that cutter easily. He started being more comfortable [with pitches up and in]. I use it as a theory -- it might not be true -- about why he developed so much more power. It might be a crazy theory.”

Whether true or not, Yelich’s power really emerged beginning with a home run in last year's All-Star Game at Nationals Park. He hit 25 more in the second half, second in the Majors to Oakland’s Khris Davis, and led MLB with a .770 second-half slugging percentage -- 81 points over runner-up Luke Voit.

Yelich was held to 7-for-36 in the postseason, but two of those hits were home runs. He hit four more in Spring Training, then homered in each of the Brewers’ first four games. He was the first player in franchise history to do that.

Yelich’s theory of Murphy’s theory?

“I don’t know. I feel like Eddie has always had that [cutter] ever since I came over,” Yelich said. “He mixes it in. I don’t think that’s the reason. But maybe. I’ll hit off Eddie my whole career, as long as we’re here. You can’t change that up.”

Progress for Jeffress, next phase for Suter

Reliever Jeremy Jeffress, on the injured list while he works back from a right shoulder issue, threw a three-up, three-down inning in Phoenix on Saturday without issue, manager Craig Counsell said. Jeffress is pitching every three days, so he is lined up to throw again in Phoenix on Tuesday. If that goes well, he could get a taste of the real thing as soon as Friday with Triple-A San Antonio.

The Brewers have not revealed velocity readings from Jeffress’ recent mound sessions, but he would not be pitching if there wasn’t improvement from the 83-84 mph fastballs he threw in his only Cactus League appearance, which prompted the initial alarm.

Jimmy Nelson departed for Phoenix on Saturday, and Brent Suter was scheduled to leave after Sunday’s game against the Cardinals. Suter, working back from Tommy John surgery, will reach a milestone in his comeback in the next week or so when he graduates to throwing from 120 feet.

At that distance, Suter will be cleared to begin mixing in breaking balls, and eventually to get back on a mound.

“I’ll come up [to Milwaukee] for a weekend every month to stay connected,” Suter said, “and maybe to throw in front of [pitching coach Chris] Hook. … Phase two starts for me in a week or two. That’s when you start throwing more than three times a week, start to incorporate other pitches. So we’re getting there.”

Davies resets

Right-hander Zach Davies gets a clean slate when he starts Monday against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. After making 61 starts in 2016-17 for the Brewers, Davies was limited to 13 starts and 66 regular season innings last year by shoulder and back injuries.

“I’m excited to get back out there, excited to turn the page, for it to be a new year,” Davies said.

Said Counsell: “Zach never got a chance to get started last year. Every time we started, it got stopped. He’s got something to prove. There’s no question.”

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram and like him on Facebook.