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 the prior week and the upcoming matchups to watch, identifying numbers that are generally not found in a standard box score.
Here ye, here ye, the baseball playoffs are finally upon us! This train has finally arrived, and we have our six divisional winners sitting pretty waiting for games to begin on Thursday (for the AL) and Friday (for the NL). Today we bring you a special playoff centric ‘Musings' edition. Gear up the twitter-sphere and turn on your television because it's going to be one heck of a week.
It's this week's Musings.
Numbers - Regular Season Recap and Playoff Madness
Photo Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
162 - Number of games it took to solidify the playoff picture. Close as we were to a game 163 to decide the American League second wild card, the Astros and Angels both lost, and the playoff picture went into focus Sunday afternoon.
2 - No hitters thrown by Max Scherzer this season. Scherzer set a franchise record in strikeouts with 17, including nine batters in a row. He joins Johnny Vander Meer (who tossed two consecutive no-nos in 1938), Allie Reynolds (1951), Virgin Trucks (1952), Nolan Ryan (1973), and Roy Halladay (who tossed one during the regular season and one in the NLDS in 2010) as the sixth pitcher to throw two no hitters in one season. Although year one in DC went well on a personal level for Scherzer, the Nats' disappointing season will be what we remember most out of 2015.
4 - Number of home runs allowed by Jake Arrieta since June. His dominant second half makes him a no-brainer for the Cubs in their Wild Card matchup against the Pirates. Arrieta rarely ever allows the long ball, particularly to righties (he has given up only one home run to a righty since June 10). So, do the Buccos start their inept fielding slugger, Pedro Alvarez, in the hopes of him grooving one versus Arrieta? Your move Clint.
553 - Swings and misses for Clayton Kershaw prior to Sunday's abbreviated start. He went over the 300 K mark for the year and led the league in whiff creation. Kershaw faces a surprisingly potent Mets lineup (I can't believe I just wrote that sentence). Kershaw will take on the Mets Saturday night in game two of the National League Divisional Series.
13-6 - The Blue Jays record against the Yankees this year. The Jays have the Yankees' number this season as this is the most success they've had against their division rivals in their franchise history. The Jays couldn't pass the Royals for the first seed and get Texas in round one rather than the winner of the New York / Houston matchup.
5 - Different American League East winners since 2010. That's right, the Jays (2015), Orioles (2014), Red Sox (2013), Yankees (2012), Rays (2010) have all claimed the divisional crown over the past six seasons.
2.04 - Fielding Independent Pitching for Dallas Keuchel when he's pitching at Minute Maid Park. his 2.21 xFIP and 1.46 ERA demonstrate how dominant he's been at home this season. Unfortunately for the Astros, their ‘crash and burn' September put them on the road in the Wild Card game. Should Houston come away with a victory, Keuchel will be ready for a home start in the ALDS against the Royals.
1.68 - Zack Greinke's earned run average this season. With a 2.75 FIP and 3.25 xFIP, Greinke has posted his best year since 2009. The one run he gave up in eight innings Saturday showed he is in no way slowing down; Greinke is likely the starter against the Mets next Saturday in Chavez Ravine.
6 - Hits in 94 at bats for Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal. Grandal posted a 2.3 fWAR but has done absolutely nothing in the second half. Los Angeles skipper Don Mattingly used Grandal sparingly over the weekend, and it will be interesting to see how he's used against the Mets in the NLDS.
Wild Card Round - Get Ready
Two mid-week wild card games and the League Divisional Series beginning at the end of the week. There is plenty to watch and all eyes will be on the same games at the same time.
Tuesday night pits the Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka against the Astros' Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel faced the Yankees twice this season, has a 21:1 strikeout to walk ratio, and went 16 shutout innings. The Yankees are quite beat up going into the Wild Card game, but as I pointed out in my piece last week, it is largely irrelevant.
Wednesday features Jake Arrieta's Chicago Cubs visiting PNC Park and facing the Pirates' Gerrit Cole. Arrieta had an amazing regular season, really turning it on the second half. The Pirates, despite winning the most games since 1991, could not outpace the red-hot Cardinals. The Cubs won 11 of the 19 games against the Pirates. PNC Park will definitely be rocking on Wednesday night.