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Marty's Musings 6/20: The Rangers pull ahead, the Mets fall further behind

The Pirates get swept by another division rival, James Shields continues to implode, and Ichiro makes some news.

Jake Roth-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 as we take an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and preview 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 Pirates continue to struggle, the Reds ‘pen continues to look awful, and the Braves actually look like a real baseball team; it's all in this week's Musings.

Numbers

4256 - Professional hits for Ichiro Suzuki between MLB and Japan. It's a huge accomplishment for the Marlins veteran who is having one of his most productive years in recent memory.

1 - Win in the Pirates last 11 games. The Buccos were swept by the Cardinals last weekend and lost all three games at Wrigley this weekend. The Pirates are dead last in runs scored per game in June (a meager 3.2) and sit a staggering 15 games out of first place. Since the start of 2015, the Cubs have won 20 of the 28 games against Pittsburgh.

33-1 - The Cardinals 2016 record when leading after nine innings. The 33 game streak came to an end on Saturday when the Rangers scored two runs in the ninth inning against Kevin Siegrist and Trevor Rosenthal. St. Louis is hovering around .500 but are still way behind the fire-hot Cubs.

23-10 - The White Sox record on May 9th. Since that time, they are a horrible 10-26. The Sox are still only 5.5 games out of first place but have to leapfrog the Tigers, Royals, and Indians to get back on top of the division. Cleveland swept the Sox this past weekend.

183 - Runs given up by the Cincinnati Reds' bullpen. To put it into perspective how awful that is, the Cubs entire pitching staff, rotation and bullpen, have only given up 192.

3 - Number of (Atlanta) Braves players who have hit for the cycle with Freddie Freeman's symmetrical four-hit performance against the Reds on Wednesday. Atlanta is riding a five game winning streak after sweeping the Mets in a three-game set in Queens.

84 - Minor league starts by the Pirates Jameson Taillon. In those 84 starts, Taillon never went eight innings or more but he managed to do so in his second start of the season. Against the Mets last week, Taillon scattered two hits over eight scoreless innings. He got roughed up by the Cubs on Sunday night giving up four runs in as many innings.

10.16 - Earned run average for James Shields since giving up a home run to Bartolo Colon. There's no link here, but this is fun, especially considering Shields in six games prior to that dinger had a 3.23 ERA. He has been a complete bust for the Sox and did not get out of the second inning on Saturday. He was changed with eight runs against the Indians.

What to Watch

Monday June 20

Stephen Strasburg (WAS) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

A battle of two aces who have squared off against one another several times in the playoffs. Both LA and DC are 13-1 when their aces take the hill. Kershaw has been masterful this season and is the odds-on favorite to start the All Star Game despite not making it in 2015. The Dodgers are 6.5 games behind San Francisco for the West and the Nats continue to separate themselves from the Mets in the East.

Tuesday, June 21

Adam Wainwright (STL) v. Jason Hammel (CHC)

After sweeping the Pirates three straight in the Windy City, the Cubs can put some additional distance between them and second place St. Louis. Adam Wainwright 4.78 belies his underlying numbers. He's been an average pitcher per FIP and is still a key cog in the Cardinals' rotation.

Tuesday, June 21

Ian Kennedy (KC) v. Noah Syndergaard (NYM)

The Mets are starting to fall quite a bit behind Washington and take on the defending champ Royals in a World Series rematch. Syndergaard continues to throw gas ----- he averaged 99 miles per hour on his fastball in his last start.

Saturday, June 25

Stephen Wright (BOS) v. Marin Perez (TEX)

The Red Sox are having severe rotational depth issues, and Clay Buchholz is back as one of their starting five. Stephen Wright has made the case he's probably the next best starter behind David Price and the Red Sox take on the AL West leading Rangers who have suddenly put 8.5 games between them and the Mariners.

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

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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