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.
Last week we witnessed some firepower in the American League East, the Mets offense finally matched their pitching, and Adrian Beltre created some history (again). The Dodgers are trying to stay ahead in a divisional race they are desperately trying to avoid, and the NL Central continues on the path of having three playoff teams. It's all in this week's Musings.
Here are this week's numbers ‘Beyond the Box Score':
Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
2 - Number of no hitters thrown against the Dodgers (payroll near $300 million) over the course of the last nine days. It has been since 1923 that a team was no-hit twice in that duration. Jake Arrieta struck out twelve en route to a 2-0 Cubs victory. The Dodgers are the first team to get no-hit twice in a month since the 1971 Reds.
5.8 - Toronto Blue Jays' pitcher fWAR since the second half of the season. Toronto has had a high-octane offense since the start of the season, but with the mid-season addition of David Price, and their other pitchers performing well of late, they have amassed the most value on the hill of any American League team. Since the All Star game, the Jays lead the AL in runs scored and have allowed the fewest runs. A nice combination.
1 - Total number of games all season the Nationals have played with the preseason lineup that was projected by some to win close to 100 games. Tuesday was the first time the Nationals had Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Yunel Escobar, Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond, and Wilson Ramos all in the same lineup. It was short lived as Span went down with an hip-injury that will require season ending surgery. The Nationals trail the Mets in the NL East by 5.5 games.
1-7 - For the first time in history, a team's one through seven batters hit a homerun in the same game. This happened in the Mets explosion of offense in Philadelphia last week. I chronicled all the moonshots earlier this week. It was QUITE the show.
20-31 - Dodgers record against teams over .500 (not including Sunday night's game). LA had a good week sweeping the Reds and taking the series against Chicago over the weekend, but they have not been able to consistently play well against the league's better teams.
108 - First inning runs scored by the Yankees this season. They absolutely hammered the Braves in Atlanta this weekend, sweeping the series and outscoring the Braves 14-3, 3-1 and 20-6. However, the Yankee elders are starting to break down a bit with Mark Teixeira on the sidelines (though not on the disabled list) and Alex Rodriguez' fragility keeping him on the bench as a pinch hitter in games without the DH.
21 - Times the Blue Jays have posted ten runs or more in a game. The second best is 12, and the Jays again scored nine on Sunday. Toronto looks like an unstoppable offensive juggernaut and lead the Yankees by a game and a half in the East.
2,534 - Numbers of games played by Adrian Beltre in his career, the most ever for a Dominican player. The 36 year old third baseman passed journeyman Julio Franco who played for eight franchises over his 23 year career. Franco previously held the record with 2,527 games.
What to Watch
Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
We welcome 40-man rosters this week as the calendar will flip to September on Tuesday. We'll get some looks at some farmhands, but there are still several divisional races and wildcard seedings up for grabs. While there's only a little more than a month left, several teams are within striking distance of a playoff berth and will need their aces to come through over the next six weeks.
Tuesday, September 1
Zack Greinke (LAD) v. Madison Bumgarner (SF)
The Dodgers are coming off a solid week and look to their pseudo-ace in Greinke, who will take his 1.61 earned run average and 2.62 FIP to AT&T Park on Tuesday night. The second place finisher in the West is highly unlikely to make the playoffs per FanGraphs playoff odds, so the Giants will have to rely on Bumgarner to help them chip away at the Dodgers' lead in the division. Bumgarner has an ERA and FIP under three, and has even compiled one win above replacement with his efforts at the plate.
Wednesday, September 2
Max Scherzer (WAS) v. Michael Wacha (STL)
The Nationals are spiralling and losing more and more ground each week to the Mets. They have a huge series against the Cardinals this week. New York plays the lowly Phillies, so the Nats will need to keep pace while playing against the best team in the National League. Scherzer is following up well on his 2014 Cy Young season, having already posted five wins above replacement. He has a showdown with Michael Wacha on Wednesday. Wacha has a 2.69 ERA and 3.25 FIP.
Thursday, September 4
J.A. Happ (PIT) v. Lance Lynn (STL)
Lynn got absolutely smoked in his last outing against the Pirates, getting only two outs and giving up seven runs. He looks to get some revenge this time around in a battle between the top two teams in the National League. St. Louis is in the best position in the Central division with a four game lead over the Buccos, who counter with JA Happ. Happ has not given up more than one earned run in his last four games and is doing what he can to earn a spot on the postseason roster. The head-to-head games against the Cardinals are the best chance Pittsburgh has to take the division lead.
Saturday, September 5
Nathan Karns (TB) v. Nathan Eovaldi (NYY)
Eovaldi is coming off his best outing of the season against a strong Houston offense. He went eight innings and gave up no runs. The Yankees are falling behind the Blue Jays in the East but are still in the driver's seat for the wildcard. In a divisional showdown, the Rays are trying to KO their eastern rivals, so both teams may be hitting the golf course early.
Sunday, September 6
Chris Sale (CHW) v. Johnny Cueto (KC)
This matchup does not have much of an impact on the playoff seeding, with KC rolling towards the Central title, but Chris Sale remains one of the best pitchers in the AL and Johnny Cueto is adding to his resume as he prepares for a playoff run with the Royals and eventually a free agent payout.
*All matchups and pitching probables as of Sunday evening