Brewers need MVP version of Christian Yelich if they're going to come back to win NLCS

LOS ANGELES -- It's pretty simple when looking at the Brewers in the NLCS. They've lost back-to-back games and now trail in large part to the offense not doing its job. In the 22 innings between Games 4 and 5, the offense scored just two runs. 

I'm left with one question: Where in the world is Christian Yelich

"He's just not on it right now," manager Craig Counsell said of his star. "I'm glad we've got a day off. I'm glad we're going back home. He's just not on it right now."  

Some might consider it unfair to single out a player when it has been nearly a team-wide outage, but he's earned this. He was the best hitter in the NL, especially when he went bonkers in the final two months of the season. He homered in Game 1 of the NLDS. He's going to win the NL MVP. That means he is The Man for his team.

I've pointed this out in a somewhat similar situation. Back in the 2016 World Series, NL MVP Kris Bryant was bad through four games and the Cubs were down three games to one. I wrote an article about how much Bryant was costing his team. He surely didn't read it, but he responded anyway. He came through a huge home run in Game 5, a first-inning shot to set the tone in Game 6 and played well in Game 7. And the Cubs were the champs. 

This is the burden of being the MVP on a playoff team. Yelich simply isn't getting it done and his team is now one loss away from being eliminated. It's not all on him, but he's supposed to be the best player, and so he's where we start. 

Here are the spots where Yelich could have helped his team win:

  • In Game 2 with two outs in the bottom of the third, Yelich grounded out. 
  • In Game 2 in the bottom of the seventh with the Brewers clinging to a one-run lead with Josh Hader unavailable, Yelich flew out. 
  • In Game 2, down by one with a runner in scoring position, Yelich weakly grounded out to end the game.
  • In Game 4, he grounded out in the first. Remember, this game ended up 2-1 in 13 innings. 
  • Also in Game 4, he struck out swinging with a runner on second to end the fifth. 
  • In the top of the 10th in Game 4, he popped out. 
  • Leading off the top of the 13th, he grounded out in Game 4. 
  • In the first inning Wednesday, after a Lorenzo Cain single to start the game, Yelich lined out to center. 
  • In the third inning in Game 5, Yelich came up with Clayton Kershaw on the ropes. It was runners at second and third with one out and already one run in. Yelich struck out. This was probably the most glaring instance of Yelich not being what he was in the regular season.
  • In Game 5, it was tied in the top of the sixth and Yelich flew out. 

Yelich is now 5 for 28 (.179) this postseason with just the one extra base hit -- the home run in Game 1 of the NLDS. In this series, Yelich is 3 for 20 (.150) with no extra base hits. He has a negative win probability added (more on that stat here for those interested). 

"Our pitchers have done a great job, one through nine," said Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes. "Obviously Yeli was an emphasis early this year. They're doing a great job of executing and making tough pitches on him. He's obviously MVP. So making, executing to him is very important to the series." 

Yes. The Dodgers are just out-executing Yelich. That needs to change for the Brewers.  

The Brewers need to win two now before they lose one, or the potential dream season is over. In order for that to happen, Yelich is going to have to do what Bryant did in 2016: Play like the MVP should play. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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