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.
The red hot Cubs continue to blaze their trail to the playoffs and are doing their darndest to try to catch the Pirates and Cardinals. Meanwhile, in the NL West, the Dodgers have the Giants breathing down their neck. In the American League, only the Royals look like a shoo-in divisional winner. This week we saw unlikely pitcher home runs, a number of dominant performances on the mound, and an unlikely no hitter.
Here are this week's numbers ‘Beyond the Box Score':
Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
11 - No hitters in Astros history after the Mike Fiers no-no on Friday night. The FanGraphs meetup on Saber Seminar eve was buzzing following Fiers' 94-game-score no hitter against the potent Dodgers offense. The last Astros no hitter was their six-pitcher affair in June of 2003 against the Yankees. Houston has a four-game lead over the second-place Rangers (who have put themselves into the second wild card position) and five and a half in front of the struggling Angels.
6,617 - Games for Chase Utley in a Phillies uniform before his being traded to LA. As a Phil, Utley put up a 124 wRC+ and was worth 61 wins above replacement per baseball reference. In his 12+ seasons in the city of brotherly love, he mashed 233 home runs.
16 - Wins for the Cubs in August out of their 20 games. The Cubs were not really expected to compete in 2015...everything we heard was they would be a force in 2016. Joe Maddon has taken his club from rebuilding to scary legitimate contender in his first year in Chicago.
.732 - Winning percentage for the Pirates outside the division (prior to Sunday night's final). The Buccos are 52-19 and have absolutely crushed teams outside of the National League Central. Unfortunately, the top three NL teams are all in the Central, and at present it looks like the Pirates will have to face Lester in the wild card game with the Cards waiting for an LDS showdown. There's plenty of time for things to shift, but that's a daunting proposition.
1 - Number of home runs in history by an American League pitcher at Wrigley. In his first ever MLB plate appearance, Daniel Norris took Jon Lester deep. Per Jonah Keri, this was quite the rare occurrence. It was a bittersweet day for Norris, who left with an oblique strain.
.525 - Madison Bumgarner's slugging percentage, third in the NL to only Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt. Bumgarner hit another bomb against the Pirates on Friday, his fifth of the season and has taken both Kershaw and Greinke deep this year. He has a 125 wRC+ and has amassed a 1.1 fWAR AT THE PLATE!
100 - Career home runs for Yadi Molina, who hit the century mark last week against the Giants last week. There was another century mark of note last week, when Dellin Betances got his 100th K of the year in only 63 innings.
What to Watch
Tuesday, August 25
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) v. Ivan Nova (NYY)
A battle of two playoff-bound teams, the Yankees try to get revenge after losing their last series to Houston in which Keuchel shut New York out in a complete game. He struck out 12 and walked zero. Nova will attempt to keep the Yankees on pace with the surging Jays.
Wednesday, August 26
David Price (TOR) v. Colby Lewis (TEX)
There aren't two hotter teams in the American League at the moment. While the Jays try to pad their miniscule lead in the East, the Rangers turn to Lewis to continue their streak toward a wild card berth.
Friday, August 28
Jason Hammel (CHC) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
The Dodgers are having a bit of a rough time, having lost five in a row. They have a key series against the Cubs this weekend with Kershaw taking the hill on Friday. The Dodgers have the Giants nipping at their heels, while the Cubs are trying to keep pace with PIttsburgh and St. Louis.
*All matchups and pitching probables as of Sunday evening