Yelich's power surfacing as No. 3 hitter

Yelich's power surfacing as No. 3 hitter

MIAMI -- Changing things up is how a number of opposing pitchers have approached Christian Yelich. It happened again in the sixth inning on Friday night when, in a fastball count, the Marlins' left fielder was delivered an elevated changeup from Rockies right-hander Jon Gray.

Yelich didn't miss it. The left-handed hitting outfielder connected for a two-run homer that helped power Miami to a 5-1 comeback win at Marlins Park.

"A lot of people try to use that change against him," manager Don Mattingly said. "But if you leave it in the wrong spot, you're going to pay for it."

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Yelich's drive to right was projected by Statcast™ at approximately 363 feet from home plate with an exit velocity of 97 mph.

"I was just looking for something up," Yelich said. "I put a good swing on it. Caught it a little to the end, but caught enough to get it out of here."

Gray may have tipped his hand with the first pitch he threw Yelich in the first inning -- a changeup. Two of the six pitches thrown in that at-bat were changeups, and Yelich eventually lifted a fly ball to left on a slider.

In the third, Yelich grounded sharply on a slider. The home run came on a 2-0 pitch after Yelich saw two straight 94-mph fastballs. The blast came on an 84-mph changeup.

As Yelich grows into being a No. 3 hitter, he has become more of a power threat. In 62 games, his 33 RBIs are second on the team to Marcell Ozuna's 37. A year ago, in 126 games, the 24-year-old recorded 44 RBIs. His career high is 54 in 2014.

Yelich also has six home runs, with four at Marlins Park. He entered the season with three total shots at home.

"He's just been solid all year," Mattingly said.

Opponents are pitching Yelich differently than in the past. The amount of fastballs he is seeing is declining, and the number of changeups is increasing.

According to Baseball Info Solutions, Yelich is getting 56.6 percent fastballs, compared to 60.5 percent in 2015. He's dealt changeups 14 percent of the time to 13.1 last season.

As the league adjusts to Yelich and he counters, the power is surfacing. Yelich's slash line is .317/.404/.502, compared to .300/.366/.416 in 2015.

"It's just one of those things that's just happening," Yelich said. "It's no conscious effort to do more or anything like that. Hopefully, keep it going."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.