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.
Having just finished the first full post-All-Star Game week, we are officially in the dog days and the line of delimitation between contenders and pretenders is coming more into focus. This week four new members were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, we saw an ace traded, another ace increase his trade value with his current team, and what looked to be like an inevitable night to remember when Clayton Kershaw took the mound in Queens on Thursday night. It's all in this week's musings.
Here are this week's numbers beyond the box score:
Photo Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
7,920 - Number of consecutive Cubs games in which they got at least one hit. Cole Hamels changed all of that Saturday with a no-hitter that tallied a 98 game score. Hamels was utterly dominant in what is potentially his last start in a Phillies' uniform. He walked only two and struck out 13 Cubs.
4 - New members inducted into Cooperstown. Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were all voted in earlier this year and made the trek to upstate New York for a phenomenal celebration. Johnson and Pedro dominated hitters during what is decribed on Pedro's Hall plaque as a period of "high octane" offense. Combined, all four players amassed over 320 Wins Above Replacement per Baseball Reference WAR.
45 - Number of strikeouts for Clayton Kershaw since his last walk. He is the first player since 1900 to post three consecutive starts of double-digit strikeouts with no walks or runs. Kerhsaw has been brilliant of late; in his most recent start against a woeful Mets offense he went the distance striking out 11 and facing only two batters more than the minimum.
2 - Number of teams in the live-ball era that consisted of a starting lineup where the number four and five hitters both were hitting below .180 with over 100 plate appearances each. Thanks to the 2015 Mets, we all got to see history last week when the team took the field against Clayton Kershaw
4/4/2013 - The last time the Detroit Tigers were under .500 prior to last Monday. Detroit played over 400 games and never had more losses than wins, but that changed, and the Tigers are at a crossroads. There are rumors the team will sell high profile Ace David Price, though there is also considerable specualtion the team may go for it for the remainder of Miguel Cabrera's tenure with the organization and deal with the consequences later. Detroit's record is 48-49 going into Sunday night's game against Boston, and are 11 games behind the Royals in the Central.
60 - Wins for the Cardinals last week, who were the first team to get to the mark. The Cardinals have a 63-35 record and sit atop the National League Central 6 games over the Pirates. Jaime Garcia returned from injury last week and joins a rotation that leads the majors in ERA with 2.64 (the Pirates are second with 3.07).
12.2 - Percentage of pitches off the outer half of the plate that Zack Greinke is getting called strikes. Jonah Keri spoke about Greinke on his podcast and wrote about him here; Greinke's wife was in labor over the weekend, so the Dodgers consequently skipped his start. Greinke has been masterful so far in 2015, and takes a scoreless innings streak of 43.2 innings into this week's start.
5 - Number of Miami Marlins minor league affiliates, out of seven, that are in last place. The Triple-A Zephyrs are only .5 games out of last in the PCL's American-South Division, the Jacksonville Suns are mired in the basement of the Southern League. The Florida State League Jupiter Hammerheads are cellar-dwellers and the South Atlantic League Greensboro Grasshoppers are also in last place. The short-season Penn League Muck Dogs are 10-24 and in last place. The Gulf Coast League Marlins are 15-15, and represent the only team not under .500.. Even the Dominican summer league Marlins are 18-30, 16 games out of first place and stuck in last. What a year for the Miami franchise.
51-0 - Yankees record when leading after eight innings. Despite losing Andrew Miller last month, the Yankees bullpen depth prevailed and the Yankees are yet to lose a game when entering the ninth inning with a lead. The team is also 45-2 when leading after eight innings.
What to Watch
Photo Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
This week we are officially on #HugWatch. With the trade deadline this Friday, this will be the last chance for teams to get a look at sellers' available pitchers. With Johnny Cueto ending up in K.C., all eyes are on Cole Hamels, David Price, Jeff Samardzija and James Shields. Here are some potential trade-bait matchups and some fun games to keep track of in the last week of July:
Tuesday, July 28
James Shields (SD) v. Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
With rumors swirling that James Shields may be on the trading block, this could potentially be his last start with the Padres. The Mets somehow managed to put up a 15-spot on the Dodgers Saturday, but their offensive ineptitude may benefit San Diego. Meanwhile, taking the bump for the Mets--despite only pitching five innings against the Nats last week, Syndergaard has been excellent, keeping the Mets in nearly every game he's pitched. He has 82 strikeouts in 78.2 innings, and a sub-3 ERA and FIP.
Tuesday, July 28
Jordan Zimmermann (WAS) v. Jose Fernandez (MIA)
Jose Fernandez goes up against one of the best offenses in baseball and the hottest player in the NL, Bryce Harper. Since his triumphant return from Tommy John Surgery, Fernandez has posted a 1.56 FIP and 1.98 xFIP in his four starts. He is striking out batters at an 11 K/9 rate. The Nats just lost three out of four to the Pirates, and are looking to rebound against the lowly Fish.
Thursday, July 30
Shelby Miller (ATL) v. Cole Hamels (PHI...maybe?)
Cole Hamels is scheduled to start against 2015 breakout Shelby Miller. Miller has already amassed a 2.5 WAR and has settled in well within the Atlanta organization. If Ruben Amaro Jr. plans to sell off Hamels' contract after this start, it will be interesting to see what type of encore Hamels will toss.
Friday, August 1
Joe Ross (WAS) v. Jacob deGrom (NYM)
deGrom is rapidly ascending towards the "best pitcher in New York" reputation and will take the mound when the Mets host division leading Washington. deGrom is top ten in pitcher fWAR, and third in the majors in ERA (2.18). He has a a strong 2.61 FIP and an xFIP just under 3. Joe Ross has only thrown 26 innings so far in 2015, but they have been quite effective. He has posting an ERA of 2.70 and a FIP of 1.38.
*All matchups and pitching probables as of Sunday evening