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Christian Yelich and the Milwaukee Brewers think they’re just getting started.

Sure looks that way, too.

Led by breakout performances by Yelich, Josh Hader and Jesus Aguilar, Milwaukee chased down the Chicago Cubs to win the NL Central for the first time since 2011. The youthful Brewers then swept Colorado in the Division Series before taking the Los Angeles Dodgers all the way to Game 7 in the NL Championship Series.

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Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers hits a solo home run during the first inning in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series at Miller Park on Oct. 20, 2018, in Milwaukee, Wis.Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The playoff run ended with a 5-1 loss to the more seasoned Dodgers on Saturday night, but the Brewers plan on returning to October very soon.

“We feel like we’ve got a lot of talent here,” Yelich said. “Hopefully it’s just the beginning.”

The 26-year-old Yelich nearly won the Triple Crown in his first season with Milwaukee after he was acquired in a trade with Miami in January. The silky smooth outfielder is the leading candidate for his first NL MVP award.

Aguilar cruised past his previous career highs with 35 homers and 108 RBIs, and Hader set a major league record for a left-handed reliever with a whopping 143 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings. Throw in centre fielder Lorenzo Cain and key arms Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel, and Milwaukee is ideally positioned to make consecutive playoff appearances for only the second time in franchise history.

“What these guys accomplished, it’s something I hope every one of these guys doesn’t forget,” said veteran catcher Erik Kratz, who came over in a May 25 trade with the New York Yankees and made a couple of big plays in the postseason.

“We made it to Game 7, and that can be a positive. Hopefully, they don’t stop there. Hopefully, Yelli doesn’t stop with one MVP award. Hopefully, LoCain doesn’t stop with one Gold Glove. I think the game allows everybody to either be content with what happened or try to build on it. As a group here, these guys can’t do anything but build on it.”

After Milwaukee lost to St. Louis in the 2011 NLCS, the Brewers slipped to 83-79 the following year and all the way to 74-88 in 2013. They finally made it back to the playoffs this year.

So don’t expect manager Craig Counsell, who played for the 2011 team and grew up in Milwaukee, to take anything for granted.

“That’s going to be what we spend a lot of time talking about next year, probably, is sustaining this,” he said. “But we feel like that’s at the forefront of all of our decisions is how do we build something that we can sustain. So hopefully that gives us a ways and a means to kind of make that happen.”

Some of Milwaukee’s biggest decisions heading into next season have to do with its pitching staff. Rookie right-hander Freddy Peralta showed some promise during his 14 starts, and Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff became versatile options out of the bullpen after they were highly regarded starters in the minors.

Angels, Reds, appoint new skippers

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Brad Ausmus has been named the Los Angeles Angels’ manager.

General manager Billy Eppler on Sunday announced the hiring of Ausmus, who served as his special assistant last season.

Ausmus replaces Mike Scioscia, who left the club earlier this month after 19 seasons in charge. Scioscia is the winningest manager in franchise history.

Ausmus is a former big-league catcher who spent four seasons as the Detroit Tigers’ manager from 2014-17. The Tigers won the AL Central in his first season but went just 314-332 in his tenure.

The big-budget Angels have missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons and haven’t won a playoff game since 2009. They are coming off three straight losing seasons for the first time since 1992-94.

In Cincinnati, David Bell has been hired as manager of the Reds, tasked with helping turn around a team that skidded to a 67-95 record and last-place finish in the NL Central.

The Reds said Sunday he has been given a three-year contract that includes a team option for 2022. The 46-year-old Cincinnati native is to be introduced at a news conference Monday.

The Reds fired Bryan Price after a 3-15 start and Jim Riggleman was interim manager for the rest of the season.

Bell was a minor-league manager for the Reds from 2009-12, became the Chicago Cubs’ third base coach in 2013, St. Louis’ assistant hitting coach the following year and the Cardinals’ bench coach for the next three years. He was San Francisco’s vice-president of player development last season.

Bell and his father, Reds front-office executive Buddy, become the fourth father-son duo to serve as major league managers, joining George and Dick Sisler, Bob and Joel Skinner, and Bob and Aaron Boone. Buddy Bell managed the Detroit Tigers (1996-1998), Colorado Rockies (2000-2002) and Kansas City Royals (2005-2007).

That leaves the Baltimore Orioles, Minnesota Twins, Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays with managerial openings.

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