Welcome to a new weekly column at Beyond the Box Score entitled: ‘Marty's Musings.' Each week, I'll offer a summary of the past week of baseball through numbers that may not generally be found in a standard box score. These figures will identify the latest trends, news, and information around Major League Baseball, keeping you informed with what's happening around the league while focusing on data and information that you won't see in most weekly roundup pieces.
I will be your guide through the season to ensure all the top stories are on your radar as well as steering you towards the upcoming week's top starting pitching match-ups and stories of note. Each week I will bring you numbers that impacted the game in some way.
Brad Penner/USA Today
11 - Consecutive games won by the Mets. As part of the streak the Mets set a franchise record sweeping a 10 game home stand, and have yet to bat in the bottom of the ninth. With 14 wins already in the bank, if the Mets go .500 the rest of the way, they will finish the season with 88 wins.
40.4% - Lucas Duda's line drive rate. Speaking of the Mets, this is looking to be a potential breakout year for Duda, as he is crushing the ball all over Citi Field. More importantly, he is showing success against lefties. He has a .447 weighted on base average (wOBA) against southpaws so far this season compared to .241 in 2014.
90.0 - Mark Melancon' average fastball so far in 2015. The Pirates closer had established himself as one of the best in the pen, yet his clear velocity drop has become a concern. Melancon has five strikeouts to four walks and an xFIP of 3.96. His average fastball velocity per PITCHf/x between 2012 and 2015: 93.1, 92.7, 92.5, 90.0.
0.65 - Earned Run Average for the Kansas City Royals bullpen. The Royals have been chirpy recently and gaining the attention of all baseball causing multiple bench-clearing brawls last week, but their relievers continue to mow down lineups. Despite the limited amount of damage that has occurred against the Royals relievers, Kansas City's bullpen xFIP is over three.
21 - Age of Chicago Cubs' most recent call-up Addison Russell. Russell was traded to the North Side when late season rental Jeff Samardzija was sent packing to Oakland. With the recent addition of Kris Bryant the Cubs appear they want to compete this year while also giving their younger players an opportunity to play everyday.
9 - Milwaukee Brewer and Minnesota Twins home runs so far this season. The Brew Crew has gotten off to a horrendous 4-15 start and has the fewest team home runs in the majors. The bad news for Milwaukee continued, as Carlos Gomez landed on the disabled list with a strained hamstring last week. The Twins offense has sputtered since their opening series when they put up only one run in three games.
6.6%- Swinging strike rate for Nationals' ace Stephen Strasburg. Stras usually averages a swinging strike rate well above 10%, but he's only getting 3.2% swinging strikes off his fastball in 2015, down from 6.8% last year.
3.5 / 4.4 - Average margin of victory for the Red Sox over their opponents and average deficit for a loss. When the Red Sox win, they win big and when they lose, they lose bigger. As expected Boston's pitching has been their Achilles' heel; the team has lost four games by five runs including losing to the Yankees and Orioles by ten and eleven runs, respectively. This could be the ugliest decent team to watch in a long time.
What to Watch
Reinhold Matay/USA Today
Monday, April 27
Collin McHugh (HOU) v. James Shields (SD). The old guard versus the new guard. Thirty-three year old James Shields has 29 Ks in 25 innings and Collin McHugh has a 60:10 K:BB rate over his last ten starts. The fun part is that both of these teams may actually be relevant for much of 2015, so now would be a good time to see them in action.
Tuesday, April 28
Jake Odorizzi (TB) v. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY). Since the start of 2014, Odorizzi leads the league in starts of 6 or more innings of 3 hit, 1 run ball. Selective stat? Sure, but that's consistency the Rays need out of their young stud. Meanwhile, Tanaka seems to be adjusting to his seemingly hindered state. He has been reverting back to his four-seam fastball more: in his first start he only threw the four seamer 19% of the time, but it's been 50% or more in every start since.
Tuesday, April 28
Madison Bumgarner (SF) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD). The only other time the reigning regular season Most Valuable Player faced off against the World Series Most Valuable Player was last Wednesday when these two had a showdown. If you missed round one, you get a second chance, take advantage of it.
Wednesday, April 29
Yordano Ventura (KC) v. Danny Salazar (CLE). In Danny Salazar's two games back since rejoining the team from AAA, he has struck out 21 batters and walked only 5. In his last start, he threw 80 pitches between 97 and 99 MPH. Ventura may be serving his suspension and miss his start, but either way, this could be a good opportunity for the last place Indians to show the Royals that there is good young pitching talent in the division that can be found outside of KC.
Thursday, April 30
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) v. Jacob deGrom (NYM). A matchup of the consensus preseason darling Nationals and a Mets team that has come out of the gate incredibly strong to take a seven game lead over the Nats. It will also be interesting to see if Strasburg can induce some whiffs against a Mets' team that is second best in avoiding strikeouts.