Stream free LIVE: Tatis taking on Crew

May 27th, 2021

There are plenty of contenders for the title of baseball’s most electrifying player. But no conversation on that topic would be complete without giving his due consideration.

The 22-year-old Padres shortstop has produced at a historic level since his 2019 debut, but it’s not just his jaw-dropping numbers that make him so watchable. It’s also the loud tools, the flair for the dramatic, the bountiful swag and the pure joy with which he plays the game.

All of that is on display, as MLB.TV’s Free Game of the Day is featuring the Padres and Brewers wrapping up a four-game series in Milwaukee. (Blackout restrictions apply, although live audio still will be available through MLB.TV in local markets.)

Here’s a quick breakdown of the matchup:

How they’re doing
Padres (32-18, 1st in NL West)
Brewers (24-25, 3rd in NL Central)

These postseason hopefuls have been going in opposite directions of late. The Padres are an NL-best 17-6 in May, including a nine-game win streak that the Brewers ended on Monday, and they now own MLB's best record overall. Milwaukee had the NL’s best record (17-10) through May 1 but is just 7-15 since and hopes to earn a series split on Thursday.

The matchup on the mound
Padres -- (2-1, 1.48 ERA in 10 games / five starts)
Brewers -- (3-5, 4.53 ERA in nine starts)

Like Tatis Jr., Weathers is a second-generation big leaguer, following his father David, who pitched for 19 MLB seasons. He also became the rare player to make his MLB debut in the postseason when, at age 20, he came out of the bullpen in Game 1 of the 2020 NL Division Series against the Dodgers. The rookie left-hander has been highly effective this year but has gone past the fourth inning only once.

The player to watch
You can’t take your eyes off Tatis, no matter what he’s doing. That’s good advice for fans as well as opposing defenses. Tatis can do everything on the field and possesses a rare combination of power and speed, ranking in the 96th percentile of MLB players this season in barrel rate, and in the 94th percentile in sprint speed. He launches loud homers (four this year hit at 110-plus mph and five at 430-plus feet). He makes daring plays on the basepaths -- the sort that almost nobody else would even attempt. And while he can be mistake-prone at shortstop, leading MLB in errors this year, there’s also always the potential for something spectacular.

Don’t forget him
In 2018-19, enjoyed one of the best two-season stretches in recent history, batting .327/.415/.631 (171 OPS+) with 80 home runs, 207 RBIs and 52 stolen bases. That performance netted him two All-Star nods, two Silver Slugger Awards, the 2018 NL MVP Award and a runner-up finish in ‘19. Unfortunately for the Brewers, that version of Yelich has not appeared since then -- albeit in just 75 games interrupted by the pandemic and a pesky back ailment. Yelich returned from the injured list last week, and getting him going again is crucial to Milwaukee’s hopes.

Picture this
There is no shortage of nasty pitches across the Majors these days, but ' changeup (dubbed the “Airbender”) certainly ranks near the top of the list. The unique pitch was key to Williams’ 2020 NL Rookie of the Year campaign, and it’s made life tough on hitters again this year. Williams’ 66 strikeouts with it since the start of 2020 are by far the most by any reliever on any pitch type.

Number of note
Tatis recently missed eight games after testing positive for COVID-19 but then returned with a bang. From May 19-23, he went 11-for-14 (.786) with four doubles, four home runs and 12 RBIs. His 27 total bases were the most for any Padres hitter over a four-game span since Ken Caminiti notched 30 from Sept. 16-19, 1995.