Welcome to “Marty's Musings,” my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide for an analytic look at the previous week in MLB and a preview of some of this week's starting pitching matchups.
In this week's Musings, the Blue Jays try to get back on track, Eric Thames becomes a familiar name, and Mookie Betts finally strikes out.
News in Numbers
80 - Games in the suspension of Pirates star outfielder Starling Marte. Marte got busted for Nandrolone, an oldie-but-definitely-not-goodie. The PED has been around for decades and Marte’s positive test sidelines him for 80 games plus the entire postseason, should the Pirates shock the NL and make it. His absence certainly won’t make that easier; from 2013 to 2016, Marte averaged more than 4 fWAR per season.
68 - Age of Wayne Graczyk, the Japanese Times baseball columnist who passed away on Tuesday night. Graczyk formerly worked for Baseball America and was one of the earlier Western columnists to move to the Far East.
5 - Series in a row lost by the Blue Jays to start the year before they took two out of three from the Angels in Anaheim. It was the first time the Jays ever lost five series in a row. They lost two out of three to Boston before the series against the Angels, including a pretty lousy game on Thursday...
50 - Percent of plate appearances in which the Blue Jays struck out against the Red Sox Thursday, in a 4-1 loss. Chris Sale shutdown Toronto through eight innings, striking out thirteen batters and allowing zero runs. Marco Estrada also pitched well through six innings for the Jays, but Jason Grilli blew it in the tenth.
5 - Straight games in which Brewers outfielder Eric Thames hit a home run. In Thames’s reentry into MLB after a time in Korea, he seems to be adjusting very well. Over the course of 18 games, he has eight homers, which leads the majors.
91 - Runs scored by the Yankees, the most in the American League. Chase Headley has led the charge for the Bombers with a 187 wRC+. Meanwhile, human home run machine Aaron Judge continues to crush the living daylights out of pitches.
6/15/04 - The last time Bronson Arroyo won a game prior to Tuesday. He started three games for the Reds so far this year, in unexciting fashion, but it’s amazing the 40-year-old is still going. He is the last active player from the 2004 Red Sox.
23 - Innings pitched by James Paxton before he allowed a run. Paxton has been the best starter for the Mariners. Through 25 1⁄3 innings, he has struck out 30 batters and posted a 1.3 fWAR.
50.3 - Current career bWAR for Mike Trout, who continues to amaze anyone who watches him. Trout has a 212 wRC+ through the first few weeks of the 2017 season. It took Griffey more plate appearances to get to 40 WAR, and A-Rod about the same number of plate appearances to get to 46. It’s not a new observation, but Trout really is something special.
129 - Consecutive plate appearances without a strikeout by Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts. The streak went back to last September (because for whatever reason, MLB doesn’t count postseason stats). He finally struck out Thursday afternoon.
8 - Estimated weeks to be missed by Madison Bumgarner after his dirt bike injury on an off-day in Colorado. Bumgarner has been the Giants workhorse. He injured his ribs and shoulder in what seems to be an inexplicable error in judgement on an in-season off-day.
2 - Games in which Freddie Freeman has not reached base so far this season. Freeman has a 238 wRC+, and a .381/.494/.810 slash line.
Matchups to Watch
Tuesday, April 25
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) v. Josh Tomlin (CLE), 6:10 ET
Dallas Keuchel has been remarkable this season, especially considering he has thrown barely 30 percent of his pitches in the zone. But the Indians are a patient team, currently posting over a 10 percent walk rate. Meanwhile, Josh Tomlin has had trouble to start the year, giving up between three and seven earned runs in each of his three starts.
Marco Estrada (TOR) v. MIchael Wacha (STL), 8:15 ET
The Blue Jays finally won a series over the weekend but remain quite a bit behind the rest of the division. In Thursday’s matinee against the Red Sox, Estrada pitched brilliantly, though the Jays still lost. In an interleague “bird series,” he takes on a Cardinals team that is looking to keep pace with the Cubs in the NL Central.
Wednesday, April 26
Nate Karnes (KC) v. Jose Quintana (CHW), 2:10 ET
Quintana has been underperforming so far in a pivotal year in which the White Sox can still trade him. His value has likely been lowered (though by how much is debatable) over his four ineffective starts. Nate Karns gave up four home runs in his last start against Texas.
Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) v. Chris Sale (BOS)
Chris Sale has unequivocally been the best pitcher in the majors so far this year in spite of some limited run support by the Boston offense. Tanaka has been the opposite, struggling in his first three starts of the year year until he pitched well against the White Sox last week. The Yankees are off to a good start, and taking a couple games in Boston would certainly help.
James Paxton (SEA) v. Derek Norris (DET), 7:10 ET
Paxton has been must-watch tv over the last few weeks but stumbled in his last start against Oakland. While his true-talent is somewhere in the middle of four scoreless starts and a five-run crushing against the A’s, the Mariners need him to perform to stay in the playoff hunt. LIkewise, the Tigers’ season hinges on their starters figuring things out going forward, as Justin Verlander has a 6.04 ERA and Norris has been mediocre or lousy in two of his three starts.
Thursday, April 27
Gio Gonzalez (WAS) v. Antonio Senzatela (COL), 3:10 ET
In a battle of two first place teams, Rockies’ rookie Senzatela takes on Nats’ veteran Gio Gonzalez. Senzatela has been brilliant in his last three starts, going at least seven innings and allowing two, three, and one runs respectively. The Rockies currently are in first place in the NL West with a 13-6 record.
Friday, April 28
Jacob deGrom (NYM) v. Max Scherzer (WAS)
The Nationals took the first series two games to one against the Mets in their visit to Queens last weekend. The division standings are still sorting out, but the general consensus is that one of these teams will likely win it over the other. Friday’s matchup features two of the best pitchers in baseball, including deGRom, who labored over 5.2 innings of three-run ball against DC last week, and Max Scherzer, who shutout the Braves in seven scoreless innings in his last outing.
Sunday, April 30
Brett Anderson (CHC) v. Rick Porcello (BOS)
In an unusual interleague matchup, the Cubs visit the Red Sox in Boston, taking on the reigning AL Cy Young champion, Rick Porcello. The Red Sox bats have not been as explosive as expected, but Brett Anderson could not get out of the fourth inning against the Brewers in his last start.