Christian Yelich injury fallout: Brewers' playoff chances, no surgery needed, recovery timetable and other things to know

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich will miss the rest of the season after fracturing his kneecap on Tuesday night against the Miami Marlins. Yelich, the reigning National League Most Valuable Player, suffered the injury when he fouled a ball off his knee during his at-bat in the top of the first inning. It has since been determined he won't require surgery.

Yelich made his first public comments after the injury on Thursday, tweeting it was a "frustrating way for a season to end."

Whenever a player of Yelich's magnitude goes down, it's certain to have a major impact on their team as well as the rest of the league. Below, we've compiled a list of four things to know about Yelich and the potential ramifications of his injury.

1. How long is Yelich expected to be out?

Brewers general manager David Stearns told reporters after Tuesday's game that Yelich was scheduled to return to Milwaukee on Wednesday, where he would undergo more further testing to determine if he needed surgery. On Thursday, Stearns announced Yelich will not need an operation, but will miss 8-10 weeks. Yelich is not expected to experience long-term effects from the injury:

The extent of Yelich's rehab is not yet known. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' website states that even with nonsurgical treatment some fractures necessitate that "weight bearing is not allowed for 6 to 8 weeks," and that rehabilitation can "sometimes require keeping your leg immobilized in a cast for a long period of time." As such, it's possible Yelich still has a long, grueling road ahead of him -- even though he was able to evade undergoing the knife.

2. How does this impact Yelich's chances of repeating as MVP?

Unfortunately, there are baseball matters to discuss -- like if Yelich's injury will ruin his pursuit of becoming the first repeat NL MVP Award winner since Albert Pujols in 2008-09.

Our Matt Snyder analyzed the NL MVP race earlier in the week, naming Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger as the "one to beat" based on having more Wins Above Replacement than Yelich and providing more defensive value (and versatility) on a better team. Presuming that's correct -- and it's a fair assessment -- Yelich won't be able to close the gap by out-homering Bellinger, or by single-handedly guiding the Brewers back to October.

None of this is to say Yelich has no chance whatsoever -- just that he already seemed like a slight underdog, and that not being able to play the final two-plus weeks probably won't help.

3. Who will replace Yelich in the Brewers lineup?

There's no real replacing Yelich, of course, but the Brewers will presumably lean on rookie Trent Grisham as their most-days right fielder.

Grisham, 22, has appeared in 33 big-league games this season and has hit .263/.324/.455 (98 OPS+) with four home runs. Previously, he'd batted .300/.407/.603 across the upper minors, with 26 home runs, 12 stolen bases (on 17 tries), and nearly as many walks as strikeouts.

Grisham is considered the sixth-best prospect in Milwaukee's system by MLB.com. That ranking might understate the progress he's made at the plate this season, as he's improved his approach and is making better contact. (We wrote more about Grisham here, including what an American League talent evaluator said about him.) Should those gains translate against big-league pitching, he could prove to be a regular.

Albeit in a small sample, Grisham has posted a better exit velocity (89.1 mph) than the league-average mark. He's also maintained a patient, disciplined approach, having seldom expanded his strike zone. Both are positive qualities working in his favor.

The Brewers' other outfield options at this point include Ben Gamel and Tyrone Taylor. If they get desperate, they could throw Tyler Austin, Cory Spangenberg, or Hernan Perez out there.

4. What does this mean for the NL playoff race?

Obviously Yelich's absence hurts the Brewers, who were already operating without rookie second baseman Keston Hiura and starter Brandon Woodruff

Milwaukee enters Wednesday having won five in a row to improve their record to 76-68, or one game behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild-card spot. (The Cubs recently lost their own MVP candidate, Javier Baez, for the rest of the season due to a fractured thumb.) SportsLine's projections give Milwaukee a 46.6 percent shot at reaching the playoffs without Yelich (with they would've been over 50 percent), but three other teams are within three games of the Cubs: the Philadelphia Phillies (two back), Arizona Diamondbacks (2 1/2 back), and the New York Mets (three back). 

It should be noted that the Brewers have the weakest remaining schedule in the NL, per Baseball-Reference's calculations: they'll play two more against the Marlins, then three against the St. Louis Cardinals before concluding with 13 consecutive games against sub-.500 teams. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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