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, we mourn the loss of one of baseball’s most electrifying ambassadors, Los Angeles says goodbye to an icon, and the playoff picture gets a little clearer; it’s all in this week’s Musings.
16 - Number worn by Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a tragic boating accident early Sunday morning. The chilling news came across social media on Sunday sending shockwaves through the MLB community. Fernandez was a dazzling pitcher, who at just 24 years of age, had what seemed to be a promising and perhaps even Cooperstown-bound career awaiting him. Our hearts were broken this weekend as one of the most fun and likable players in baseball was taken away from us too soon. Rest easy Jose, you will be greatly missed.
67 - Years at the helm for Dodgers announcer Vin Scully. We’ve been celebrating Scully all season and his tenure in Los Angeles culminated with an improbable 3-2 come-from-behind-victory. Corey Seager tied the game with a home run with two down in the bottom of the ninth and Charlie Culbertson hit a home run to win it in the tenth. The Dodgers clinched the National League West, and Scully regaled us with many thanks, and then a serenade. He will announce his last game on Sunday in San Francisco when the Giants play host to the Dodgers.
6 - Of eight divisions that are wrapped-up going into the last week of the season. The Indians need only one victory or a Detroit loss to seal the Central, and the Red Sox magic number is two. Toronto is in good position to make the wild card game with the Orioles staying afloat, but being chased by Detroit for the second AL wildcard. In the National League, the Mets are one game ahead in the loss-column against both the Giants and Cardinals who are jockeying for the last spot.
3 - Consecutive divisional sweeps for the Red Sox who have taken control of the American League East in only about ten days. The Sox buried the Yankees in four game thrashing, denied the Orioles a chance at making a division run, and swept the lowly Rays. Boston is currently tied with the Rangers for the best record in the AL.
11 - Consecutive strikeouts for Red Sox pitchers in the series-finale against the Rays, which set an MLB record. All together, Boston hurlers K’d 23 batters over the course of ten innings, which set a franchise mark. The Red Sox won amidst a dance-routine around the catcher unlike any other by Dustin Pedroia, who scored the eventual winning run.
19 - Home runs by Yankees’ rookie catcher Gary Sanchez. Sanchez is the fastest player to ever get to nineteen homers as it only took him 47 games. Although he has not even suited up for one third of the Yankees games this season, his 3.2 fWAR, 19 homers, .322/.397/.706 slash line have him well-positioned for American League Rookie of the Year. He has accomplished more in two months than most rookies do over the course of an entire season.
5 - September losses for the Giants when they are leading in the ninth inning. It has been an uphill climb since the All Star break, but Yasiel Puig’s walkoff last Monday night was one of the worst defeats of the season. San Francisco is now in a tight race as three teams vie for two wildcard spots in the National League.
85 - Runs scored in September for the Blue Jays, which ranks 14th in the American League, ahead of only the Yankees. The power outage from the middle of the lineup has caused the Jays to falter and play for the second in the American League East.
168:10 - Strikeout to walk ratio for Clayton Kershaw. He is the only pitcher in the history of baseball to notch over 150 strikeouts while walking only ten batters. He looks as strong as ever going into the playoffs.
42 - Home runs by the Twins’ Brian Dozier who set the American League record for most dingers by second baseman. Alfonso Soriano held the record with 39 but Dozier swing right past him last week and carried his momentum to 42. Although he is unlikely to catch Harmon Killebrew’s Twins record of 49, he’s at least providing something positive in a 100-loss season in Minnesota. The Twins clinched worst-record in the Majors over the weekend.
Games to Watch
Orioles v. Blue Jays, Tuesday through Thursday
All games at 7:05 eastern
Tuesday, Gausman v. Sanchez
Wednesday, Jimenez v. Liriano
Thursday, Tillman v. Stroman
The Orioles just swept the Diamondbacks in a key series, including a clutch come-from-behind victory on Friday night. They face the Blue Jays, who they trail by 1.5 games for the first AL Wild card position. A sweep in either direction would be welcome news for Detroit and Seattle, who remain in the race mathematically, but do not control their own fate.
Dodgers v. Giants, Friday through Sunday
Friday, Kershaw v. Bumgarner, 10:15 ET
Saturday, Hill v. TBD, 4:05 ET
Sunday, De Leon v. Moore, 3:30 ET
The Dodgers are still playing for home field advantage in the National League Divisional Series, and sit one game behind the Nationals and the Giants are still in a position to sneak into the playoffs despite their putrid play over the last couple months.
This series features a classic Kershaw / Bumgarner game and we will for the last time have the pleasure of listening to it being announced by Vin Scully. Sunday will be a bittersweet goodbye to Scully who has been a Dodgers tradition going back to Brooklyn, nearly 70 years ago. If you have a chance to watch a portion of any of the games this weekend, it would be worth your while. A heart congratulations to Vin on his retirement, to go out on top on your own terms, knowing you’re one of greatest is quite a legacy ---- and all the while, Vin has been a humble as they come.
Monday, September 26
Bartolo Colon (NYM) v. Adam Conley (MIA)
Jose Fernandez was slated to start this game and understandably, this will be an emotional roller-coaster for both teams. While it’s not hard to imagine the Marlins just want the season to end, the camaraderie for this last week will likely never be stronger. This will certainly be a tear-jerker Monday night.
Tuesday, September 27
Felix Hernandez (SEA) v. Mike Fiers (HOU)
The Mariners still have an outside chance at making the American League wildcard. With the O’s and Jays battling, the Ms look to Felix Hernandez to do his part. In his last outing, he threw seven shutout innings against the Jays.
Although Houston is only three games out of the second wildcard, they have to jump over four teams to make it to the playoffs. Not impossible, but pretty unlikely.
Pitching Matchups based on early week probables