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, Kris Bryant has himself a night, the Astros suddenly look like contenders in the AL West, and Cleveland rocks; it's all in this week's Musings.
14 - Game winning streak by the Cleveland Indians who finally were brought back down to earth in a series loss to Toronto over the weekend. The Tribe went 22-6 in June and moved ahead in the Central by 6.5 and 7 games over Tigers and Royals respectively. They won the first game of a three-game series against Detroit on July 4th.
16 - Total bases for Kris Bryant last Monday night against the Reds. Bryant became the first player in the modern era to hit three home runs and two doubles. He drove in six of the Cubs XX runs and scored another four in an 11-8 slugfest in Cincy.
17 - Home runs given up by Red Sox ‘starter' Clay Buchholz in 80.2 innings. The Sox continue to struggle on the mound, particularly their starters. Boston came into June in first place but had the fewest wins of any team in the division in June. They now trail the orioles by 2 games in the AL East.
21-2 - Thumping the Angels gave the Red Sox in Boston on Saturday. The Angels delivered the Sox worst loss at Fenway since a 22-1 debacle against the Yankees in 2000.
3 - Seven-game win streaks for the Orioles. As low as the Red Sox have been, the Orioles completed their third week-long winning streak of the season. Despite Baltimore being 27th in rotation innings, they remain in first place thanks to solid power and home run numbers and a decent ‘pen.
14 - Home runs by Astros second baseman Jose Altuve. Altuve has become one of the most productive players in baseball and is demonstrating a power surge for the first time in his six-year career. Altuve's previous career high for homers was 15 (last year's total). He has hit 50 home runs since his MLB debut in 2011, 29 of which have been in the last year and a half.
1 - Game back of a wildcard for the Houston Astros. Led by the aforementioned Altuve, the ‘stros have turned it in since nearly burying themselves in an early season hole. A 7-17 April put them quite behind the Rangers and Mariners, but a, 18-8 June got them back on track.
4 - Game sweep of the Cubs for the New York Mets who continue to trail the Nats by four games in the National League East. All the Mets' starters got in on the Chicago dumping except Matt Harvey, who didn't make it out of the fourth inning against the Marlins on Monday.
8 - Time the Yankees' Jacoby Ellsbury has reached back on catcher's interference. He has already tied the MLB record. New York continues to hover around .500 and have yet to really prove themselves as a wild card contender. The Yanks sit seven games behind Baltimore and currently have a record of 40-42.
What to Watch
Tuesday, July 5
AJ Griffin (TEX) v. David Price (BOS)
As i wrote last week, the Rangers have put themselves in a great position in the American League West. They go into Boston to try to further take advantage of a shaky (at best) Boston rotation that includes the inconsistent and expensive David Price. Price has been victim to shortened starts and significant long-balls. Griffin meanwhile currently has an ERA 36 percent better than league average and a FIP 18 percent better than league average.
Wednesday, July 6
Michael Fulmer (DET) v. Josh Tomlin (CLE)
A battle between first and second place in the Central, the Tigers throw former Mets' farmhand Michael Fulmer. The 23-year-old has been excellent in 12 starts, and has an ERA of 2.17 and a FIP of 3.52. In his last start against the Rays, he struck out 10 and only walked one over seven shutout innings.
Thursday, July 7
Drew Pomeranz (SD) v. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD)
The Dodgers have been hovering around .500 and are looking up at the Giants in the National League West. They hope Ryu can provide some stability in his first start of the season. They have started 11 different pitchers this year including Bud Norris, Nick Tepesch, Brock Stewart and Mile Bolsinger (those four starters have a combined 0.3 fWAR over nine starts).
Friday, July 8
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) v. Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
It seems as if the Mets and Nats play one another on a weekly basis (I think I've written that exact sentence previously...). This will hopefully live up to it's expectations as a light's out pitcher's duel with many strikeouts and the same intensity we saw the last time these teams faced off in Queens.
*Matchups determined by pitching probables as shown on Monday evening and are subject to change
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