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Marty's Musings: May 16th, Nats in the news

It was a good week to be in DC, as the Nats made plenty of news. There was Stephen Strasburg's new deal and Max Scherzer’s 20-K performance. The Athletics got smoked in Boston and Kansas City continues to falter.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to ‘Marty's Musings,' my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball and looking forward to this week's key matchups. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and previewing some of this week's key matchups, identifying numbers that are generally not found in a standard box score.

In this week's edition, the Red Sox bats hammer in more runs than they've scored in a half century, Max Scherzer made the Tigers looks foolish, and Stephen Strasburg's significant contract extension; it's all in this week's Musings.

Numbers

175M - Dollars Stephen Strasburg will get thanks to his new contract extension. The Nationals signed their young starter for seven years and the contract includes two opt-outs after years three and four. The Nats have Stras for at least the next three years for $75 million, at which time, he may choose to exercise free agency. It's a good deal for both sides and as Nick Stellini writes, it puts additional pressure on teams to lock up their aces.

20 - Strikeouts for Max Scherzer in an all-out effort of flame-throwing against the Tigers. Scherzer gave up some hard hit balls, but embarrassed most Detroit hitters by lighting them up with his fastball from start to finish. He struck out the side in the first and finished the game with 96 of 119 pitches being strikes. Despite tying the nine-inning record of Kerry Wood, Roger Clemens, and Randy Johnson, the start still wasn't Scherzer's best game in the last seven months.

TBD - There will most certainly be suspensions for the Rangers / Blue Jays free-for-all that happened in Arlington on Sunday afternoon. After Jose Bautista's hard slide into second base, Rougned Odor absolutely pummeled him inciting a benches clearing brawl. The league will have to sort through the video to determine who gets suspended for how long, but certainly some of these players will be taking mini-vacations.

2 - Home runs for Noah Syndergaard against the Dodgers Kenta Maeda on Wednesday night. He hit a solo shot in the third inning:

and a three-run homer in the fifth:

It's the first time a pitcher has gone yard twice in a game since Micah Owings did it in August of 2007.

11 - The Oakland Athletics are bad. How bad? They gave up 11 runs in four straight games last week including an 11-3 thrashing in their final game against the Orioles, and a three game sweep by the Red Sox in which Boston outscored Oakland 40-15. Oakland got back on track with a series win against the Rays over the weekend but will have to continue to lick their wounds while trying to get back into wild card contention. However, they are only six games behind the Mariners who lead the AL West.

4 - Straight games of double digit runs for the Red Sox, including the pounding they gave the A's. The Sox lead the majors with 229 runs. One of the keys for the past few weeks has been Jackie Bradley, Jr who is on a 21-game hitting streak and in that time has batted .402 with 33 hits, including 15 extra base hits (six of which are home runs). During the streak he's crossed the plate 14 times and has driven in 26 runs ---- mostly from the bottom third of the lineup.

5 - Consecutive ten-strikeout games for the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw. He's the only Dodger to ever K double digit batters in five straight starts. He remains the best pitcher in baseball despite the increased competition from the likes of Max Scherzer, Noah Syndergaard, and Chris Sale.

2-17 - The Atlanta Braves record at home so far this season. That's right. In nearly 20 games, the Braves have notched two(!!) wins. Their 1-16 start was the worst home start of any team since the 1913 Yankees, and to date, the Diamondbacks, Mets, and Cardinals all have more wins at Turner Field than the Braves. The Phillies, Dodgers, Nationals, and Red Sox also have two wins in Atlanta this season.

7/22/2014 - The last time that the Kansas City Royals were under .500 prior to last week. The Royals were over .500 for 255 games, the longest streak in the majors. With a 6-3 loss in the Bronx, KC moved to 15-16 and remains one game under .500 going into Monday night's showdown against Boston.

2 - Consecutive losses for the Cubs in a double-header last Wednesday against the San Diego Padres. Doubleheader sweeps happen, however, it's the first and only back-to-back losses for the Cubbies all season. Chicago is 27-9 and have been in first place for the last 40 calendar days. They have a 109 run differential through only 36 games.

What to Watch

Tuesday, May 17

Max Scherzer (WAS) v. Noah Syndergaard (NYM)

This is one for which to clear your schedule. Scherzer is coming off a 20 strikeout game, and Syndergaard is coming off an eight-inning two run win against the Dodgers in which he hit two home runs!  Even if it's highly unlikely either of those things happen again, this is a rivalry matchup to watch.

Wednesday, May 18

Johnny Cueto (SF) v. Drew Pomeranz (SD)

Cueto has been excellent for the Giants so far in 2016. In eight of his nine starts this season, he's gone at least seven innings; he has 53 strikeouts in 57.2 innings and has an ERA of 2.97. Drew Pomeranz shut down the red-hot Cubs in his last start, striking out ten batters over six innings and giving up only three hits and no runs.

Wednesday, May 18

Taijuan Walker (SEA) v. Chris Tillman (BAL)

Two unexpected teams each vying for sole-possession of first place in their division go up against one another this week as the Mariners come east to face Baltimore. Walker has taken a huge step forward and has significantly lowered his walk rate and increased his strikeouts. He has a 2.63 ERA and a 3.07 FIP.

Thursday May 19

Collin McHugh (HOU) v. Chris Sale (CHW)

Chris Sale is quietly having another amazing season. He has allowed only 11 earned runs in 59 innings of work and has an ERA- of 41 and a FIP- of 66. He goes up against a struggling Astros team that sits at 15-24, 7.5 games behind the division leading Rangers.

Friday, May 20 / Saturday, May 21

Jake Arrieta (Friday) / Jon Lester (Saturday) (CHC) v. Jake Peavy (Friday) Matt Cain (Saturday) (SF)

Two first place NL teams take one another in a weekend series that pits Cubs' Ace Jake Arrieta against veteran Jake Peavy on Friday night and seasoned starters Jon Lester against Matt Cain on Saturday. The Cubs have dominated everyone so far this season so it will be interesting for them to play the Western divisional leaders.

*Matchups determined by pitching probables on Sunday evening and are subject to change

Ed's Note: An earlier version incorrectly had Jackie Bradley's season stats through Sunday.

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Steven Martano is an Editor at Beyond the Box Score, a Contributing Prospect Writer for the Colorado Rockies at Purple Row, and a contributing writer for The Hardball Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano