Welcome to another edition of ‘Marty's Musings', my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at last week and digging into the upcoming matchups, identifying numbers that are generally not found in a standard box score.
Oh boy. Where to begin this week? The Mets / Dodgers series took an emotional turn when Chase Utley took out Ruben Tejada, the Blue Jays put themselves in a hole against an unlikely Rangers team, Dallas Keuchel continues to roll against the Royals, and Jake Arrieta takes the hill this evening.
It's this week's Musings.
Numbers - NLDS Style
7.09(e) - If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.
Chase Utley supposedly broke the rule written out above with his take-out of Mets' shortstop Ruben Tejada, warranting a two-game suspension from the league. Utley is famous (or infamous) for his ‘take out' slides, and, on a play not that dissimilar from the one that ended Jung Ho Kang's season, puts Tejada on the shelf for the remainder of the year.
2005 - The last time the Houston Astros won a playoff game at home before taking game three from the Royals on Sunday afternoon. Sunday's win lacked in drama as the Astros took a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning, added an insurance run in the sixth and held on for a 4-2 victory.
1 - Number of pitchers in the history of the game to post double-digit strikeouts and zero walks in a complete game postseason shutout. Arrieta threw the CGSHO at PNC Park, shutting down the Pirates who never gained any momentum in the wild card game. The stat is a tad disingenuous, as Arrieta did hit two batters, but he put together a fantastic outing despite having command issues throughout the game.
44 - Arrieta set a personal record, throwing a career high 44 sliders ---- the most he's thrown in any single game.
2 - Hits in 14 plate appearances by Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo entered Sunday's must-win game carrying an 0-fer in the ALDS, but came through with a three-run home run in the sixth inning of game three to help drive the Jays to their first postseason win in over 20 years
41 - Age of R.A. Dickey who will make his first postseason start of his career. Dickey will become the oldest starting pitcher to make a postseason debut, and only the fifth 40+ year old to make his postseason debut on the hill. Old timers Dazzy Vance (1934), Mike Ryba (1946), Satchel Paige (1948), and Chuck Hostetler (1945) threw their first postseason innings after the age of 40 though non started their respective game.
It's Crunch time for all, Win or Go Home for Some
The Blue Jays season falls on the hands (or knuckles?) of R.A. Dickey. Dickey takes the hill this afternoon against Derek Holland and the Rangers. Dickey has performed like a league-average pitcher at best this season, and if his pitches do not dance in Arlington, the Blue Jays may find themselves on the golf course much sooner than most of us expected.
Jake Arrieta takes the hill Monday against Michael Wacha and the Cardinals. Arrieta was sterling in the wild card game, and is looking to become the 2015 version of Madison Bumgarner. He'll take on a potent Cards lineup he faced four times this season; in those outings he posted a 2.42 ERA in 26 innings and struck out 25 batters. Wacha struggled against the Cubs in his four starts, giving up 16 earned runs in 21 innings, though he did strikeout 20 batters.
The Mets v. Chase Utley. Utley and the Mets have history. Utley manned second base for the Mets' division-rival Phillies and the theatrics in taking out Ruben Tejada on Saturday night will not be forgotten any time soon. At the time of this writing, it looks as if Utley will appeal his suspension and likely play the rest of the NLDS (regardless of whether the suspension is upheld). Tensions will run high in Queens over the next two days.
Houston looks to take down the defending AL Champs Monday afternoon with Lance McCullers taking the hill against Yordano Ventura. Ventura started Game 1 but was lifted after a rain delay. McCullers, meanwhile, has not pitched since October 4th when he went five innings and gave up two runs against the Diamondbacks. The Astros would like nothing more than to defeat KC in Houston rather than risk a winner-take-all game five ---- a game Dallas Keuchel will not be available to start.