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Marty's Musings: Labor Day weekend

The Dodgers continue to shine without Kershaw and the American League East got tighter over the holiday weekend. This upcoming weekend includes some high-octane matchups.

Tommy Gilligan-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, Ubaldo Jimenez throws the first Baltimore complete game in some time, and the Giants continue to falter while the Cubs continue to cruise; it's all in this week's Musings.

Numbers

9/3/2014 - The date of the last time an Orioles starter went the distance in a game. Ubaldo Jimenez gave up three runs in the first inning yesterday but then cruised to a 114-pitch complete game. He gave up only two hits and helped the O's gain a game on both Toronto and Boston since both teams lost Monday.

35-24 - The Dodgers' record since Clayton Kershaw's last start. Los Angeles continues to struggle with keeping the team healthy but had a great summer and leads the National League West by 3.5 games over San Francisco. In the same time, the Giants have gone a mirror-image 24-35.

47.1- bWAR for Mike Trout, who passed Ty Cobb for most value by the age of 24. Through 24 years of age, Cobb posted 46.7 Wins and Mickey Mantle 40.9. Trout is already up to 9.2 bWAR on the season.

6 - August sweeps by the Cubs, who notched number six against the divisional ‘rival' Pirates. After a mediocre June and July, Chicago went 22-6 in August. They lead the Buccos by 21.5 and Cards by 16.5 games.

4 - Grand slams last Wednesday. Hanley Ramirez hit one against Tampa, Carlos Gomez smashed one against Texas, Stephen Cardullo had one against Colorado and Andrew Toles against the Dodgers. The last time that many four-baggers were hit was May 21, 2000 when an MLB-record six grand salamis were hit.

13 - Game losing streak snapped by the Twins last Thursday night in an 8-5 win against the White Sox. The streak was the fifth-worst losing streak in team history and the worst for the club since 1982. Minnesota, the first team eliminated from the playoff race, is having a horrible season and has already lost 86 games.

What to Watch

Tuesday, September 6

Brad Peacock (HOU) v. Corey Kluber (CLE)

The Indians are in good shape following the Labor Day holiday. They lead the Tigers by five games and are well positioned to play the American League East winner in the ALDS. Corey Kluber looks to continue their roll in the Central while the Astros need to win ---- and get some help. This series could be the one that does Houston in, as they trail two teams for the last wildcard slot. A series win in Cleveland would be a nice touch going into the home-stretch.

Wednesday, September 7

Noah Syndergaard (NYM) v. Anthony DeSclafani (CIN)

The Mets are only a game back for the National League wild card and look to their young flamethrower to inch them closer to October baseball. Thor has not struck out 10 or more batters since mid-June, but here he goes up against one of the worst offenses in the NL. DeSclafani is having himself a nice year and has an ERA 41 percent lower than league average. His xFIP however is right around league average.

Wednesday, September 7

Dylan Bundy (BAL) v. Drew Smyly (TB)

Dylan Bundy may not exactly be the pitching savior the Orioles want to get them over the hump this September, but he's all they have at the moment. They are one game behind the Red Sox and two games behind Toronto in the American League East. Bundy has proven to be an injury risk and prone to giving up homers. Tampa is looking to play spoiler in a forgotten season.

Friday, September 9

Rick Porcello (BOS) v. Marco Estrada (TOR)

Two names that somehow are in the conversation (but hopefully not the winner) of the American League Cy Young race. The Red Sox and Jays have three games north of the border, and with the teams separated by only one game at the moment, this series opener should be electric and incredibly important.

Friday, September 9

Madison Bumgarner (SF) v. Brandon Shipley (ARI)

The Giants have been free-falling for most of the second half of the year and look to MadBum to lift them up against a putrid Arizona team. If the Giants are going to take back the division, they need to start beating up on lousy divisional foes. This weekend will be a nice litmus test.

Friday, September 9

Kevin Gausman (BAL) v. Michael Fulmer (DET)

Two teams vying for a wildcard berth put up their best-performing youngsters this Friday. Gausman has not allowed a run in his last three starts while the 23-year-old Fulmer has posted three shake performances in a row. The Tigers need Fulmer at full strength for the next few weeks, but he's already up to 150 innings (between Triple A and MLB) ---- significantly higher than he ever got to in the Mets organization.

Pitching Matchups based on early week probables

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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