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Marty’s Musings: the problems of the Blue Jays

Toronto struggles mightily, MLB celebrates a legend, and the Reds revamped bullpen is... effective?

MLB: San Diego Padres at Atlanta Braves Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to “Marty's Musings,” my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and previewing some of this week's starting pitching matchups.

In this week's Musings, MLB celebrates the most impactful man to ever play the game, a Boston player sets a franchise record for two-baggers, the Blue Jays dig themselves in a serious hole, and the Reds’ relievers are sterling in a seven-inning bullpen affair.

News and Numbers

42 - number worn by the entirety of Major League Baseball on Saturday in commemoration of Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier. It’s an important tribute to a man who endured some major hate to move progress in the game and society at large.

3 - number of Matt Moore starts with the Giants of at least eight innings pitched and one or zero earned runs. It took Moore just 15 starts in San Francisco to accumulate three gems; with the Rays he only threw two such games in 94 career starts.

11:0 - strikeout-to-walk ratio for Michael Pineda in the Yankees’ home opener against Tampa Bay. Pineda threw 7 23 innings of one-run ball, a far cry from his first start of the year a week earlier, when he could not get out of the fourth inning against the Rays.

21 - batters in a row retired by the Reds bullpen last Monday. In an unconventional game against the Pirates, Brandon Finnegan started and went two innings, giving up one run. Michael Lorenzen relieved him and threw three perfect innings, followed by Cody Reed who did the same, with Wandy Peralta finishing off with a perfect ninth inning. After an absolutely horrific 2016, the Reds relief corps has been revamped, with the team reinventing the way they approach reliever innings. On the season, the Reds bullpen is running a 2.79 ERA and 3.11 FIP.

3 - home runs for Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes against the Phillies on Tuesday night. The Mets crushed the Phillies 14-4, smashing six home runs in the game ( only the sixth time in team history they’ve hit that many homers in a single game). No Philly pitcher was safe; Clay Buchholz (currently dealing with a partial forearm tear) gave up six earned runs including one home run in 2 ⅓ innings. Adam Morgan was four times as bad, giving up four homers in 3 ⅔ innings. Joely Rodriguez and Jeanmar Gomez each gave up a home run as well.

21 - innings pitched by Dallas Keuchel across three starts, in which he has only given up two earned runs and has a 15:5 K:BB rate. Keuchel is living mostly out of the zone, so it will be interesting to see how the season progresses for him.

13 - starts it took last year before Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright gave up his fourth home run of the year. He gave up four on Wednesday night against the Orioles when he only got four outs, but gave up eight earned runs.

7 - consecutive games with a double for Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland. Between April 7th and April 13th, Moreland whacked 8 doubles in seven games, plus another on April 15th. Seven consecutive games with a double is a record for any Red Sox player in franchise history.

54 - consecutive saves for Orioles’ closer Zach Britton, a streak that is still active. He tied Tom Gordon for the second-most consecutive close-outs on the all-time list, but still trails Eric Gagne by quite a bit (84 consecutive saves). Britton is currently on the DL with a sore forearm (uh oh).

21 - straight starts with three or fewer earned runs for Justin Verlander prior to a meltdown against the Indians on Saturday. In only four innings, JV gave up nine earned runs on eleven hits and a walk to only four strikeouts. If the Tigers are going to make another run at the AL pennant, they’ll need Verlander to be the player he was the second half of 2016, when he posted a 1.96 ERA and limited opposing hitters to a slash line of of .179/.232/.325. Detroit desperately hopes Saturday is more an exception than a pattern.

86 - wins projected for Toronto per FanGraphs’ depth charts at the beginning of the year. With a current record of 2-10, the Blue Jays are now projected to finish with a 80-82 record. While there is plenty of time to make up ground, Toronto has dug themselves in an unexpected early-season hole in a very competitive division.

43 - consecutive games in which reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello went at least five innings. The streak came to an end against the Rays Friday night, when Tampa Bay roughed Porcello up for eight runs over 4 13.

2 - extra-base-hits for Tigers superstar Miguel Cabrera. He has yet to hit a double, and his only two home runs did not come until the 9th and 10th games of the season. Cabrera is suffering from an artificially low BABIP of .250, and a slash line of .220/.347/.390. With an exit velocity of 95.2mph, fifth-highest in MLB, it should only be a matter of time before Miggy racks up more extra-base-hits.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, April 17

Blake Snell (TB) v. Steven Wright (BOS), 11:05 ET

It’s not a premier pitching matchup, but it is Patriots Day in Boston, and morning baseball is always a treat.

Tuesday, April 18

Yu Darvish (TEX) v. Andrew Triggs (OAK), 10:05 ET

Darvish shut the Angels out in his last start, striking out ten over seven innings. He only gave up five hits in an easy 8-3 victory. Meanwhile, despite Triggs’ lack of dominance (only four walks and four strikeouts over 11 23 innings), he has yet to give up a run in either of his two starts this season.

Wednesday, April 19

TBD (COL) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD), 10:05 ET

An NL West matchup pits Clayton Kershaw against the Rockies in his fourth game of the season. In his first start against Colorado, the Rockies roughed him, up plating four earned runs over six innings, but this game will take place in the friendly confines of Dodger Stadium.

Thursday, April 20

Chris Sale (BOS) v. Marco Estrada (TOR), 12:37 ET

Sale has been nothing short of magnificent for the Red Sox this season (despite limited run support reminiscent of the South Side), and in his last outing, Marco Estrada went seven shutout innings against Baltimore. For the Blue Jays, this is as important of an April series as a team can have; they are quite a bit behind all their AL East rivals, and taking two of three at home against Boston would be a start toward getting back on track.

James Paxton (SEA) v. Kendall Graveman (OAK), 10:05 ET

Paxton has yet to give up a run this season, having gone 21 scoreless innings to start the year, with 22 Ks and only 4 BBs in his three starts. Kendall Graveman has also been excellent; he has yet to give up more than two earned runs in a game and is currently running an ERA of 2.00, although his FIP of 4.77 isn’t as stellar.

Friday, April 21

CC Sabathia (NYY) v. Tyler Glasnow (PIT), 7:05

Sabathia has been excellent this season, allowing only three earned runs across 18 ⅓ innings. In his last start he shut down the Cardinals where his only mistake was a solo home run given up to Jedd Gyorko. Glasnow’s two starts have not been what the Pirates expected. He has yet to make it out of the fifth inning and has given up nine earned runs in fewer than seven innings.

Saturday, April 22

Gio Gonzalez (WAS) v. Matt Harvey (NYM), 4:05 ET

The Mets and Nationals are practically even as favorites to win the NL East, meaning every series won will help one team try to pull away from the other. In Saturday’s matchup, Matt Harvey will try to bounce back from a good performance against the Marlins which the Mets blew in the bottom of the ninth.

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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