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: Madison Bumgarner does something historic, the Yankees ace gets slapped around by the Rays, and the Cardinals host the World Series champs.
News in Numbers
3/60 - Yadier Molina signed a three-year $60 million contract with the Cardinals over the weekend. A key part to the Cardinals recent run of success, Yadi is now the highest paid catcher in the game on an annual basis. He’s spent his entire career in St. Louis and has become a face of the franchise.
103.7 / 22 - Speed and launch angle of the first home run of the 2017 season. Evan Longoria got a hold of one of Masahiro Tanaka’s pitches and launched one over the left field wall. Launch angles and exit velocities will be ubiquitous now that Statcast is available to everyone.
4 - Total first inning runs given up by Tanaka all of last year. He let up three in the first inning of the 2017 season against the Rays. Joe Girardi was forced to call on his relief corps in the third inning of what ended up as a 7-3 loss.
2 - Home runs in the season opener by none other than Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner. Bumgarner hit two dingers, measured at an exit velocity of 112 miles per hour by Statcast. It’s the first time in MLB history a pitcher has homered twice on Opening Day.
1 - Blown save for San Francisco closer Mark Melancon. His debut in a Giants uniform did not go as planned, as he reminded fans of the difficulty the San Francisco bullpen faced last season as well. Melancon only got two of the six batters he faced to make an out. The Giants blew three separate leads over the course of the game, including a 5-4 ninth inning lead.
10 - Strikeouts for Carlos Martinez in a 7.1 inning, zero-run outing against the Cubs Sunday night. Closer Seung Hwan Oh blew the same by giving up a three-run home run to Willson Contrereas in the top of the ninth, but he vultured the win on a Randal Grichuk walkoff single.
24 - Teams with home openers Monday afternoon and evening. We’re just at the beginning, folks.
Matchups to Watch
Monday, April 3
Justin Verlander (DET) v. Jose Quintana (CHW)
The Tigers’ window is closing and their 2017 will depend heavily on their aging stars. Miguel Cabrera remains one of the best hitters in the game, but it is Justin Verlander’s resurgence that can put them on the path to the playoffs. Jose Quintana, the White Sox default ace since the trading away of Chris Sale, may be auditioning for other teams through the spring and early summer.
Corey Kluber (CLE) v. Yu Darvish (TEX)
Two of the favorites for the American League Cy Young face off in the Rangers’ home opener on Monday night. Kluber led the Indians to an American League pennant and finished third in Cy Young voting last year. Yu Darvish played half of a season and still managed to put up 2.7 fWAR in 100 innings.
Jhoulys Chacin (SD) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD)
It’s the first Dodgers game in over half a century with someone new sitting in Vin Scully’s seat. Regardless of who is calling the game, Clayton Kershaw will be taking the mound as the best pitcher in baseball. He’ll face an anemic Padres offense, and could start the year off with a bang.
Wednesday, April 5
Jameson Taillon (PIT) v. Chris Sale (BOS)
The Red Sox open up at home with 2016 Cy Young-winner Rick Porcello but follow up on Tuesday with the best pitcher on the team. Chris Sale makes his Boston debut in an interleague game against the Pirates’ Jameson Taillon. Taillon is entering his sophomore season after a decent 104 innings last season. The Pirates are in a tough spot, as it seems like they’ll be playing for second place in the NL Central for the foreseeable future.
Friday, April 7
Max Scherzer (WAS) v. Vince Velasquez (PHI)
Scherzer remains one of the best pitchers in the game (despite starting the Nationals’ fourth game of the year) and makes his first start of 2017 against the rebuilding Phillies. Mad Max led MLB in strikeouts last year with 284, well ahead of Justin Verlander’s 254 in second place. The Phillies are looking more towards the long term, and hope that Velasquez and Aaron Nola can use 2017 to further develop.
Saturday, April 8
Aaron Sanchez (TOR) v. Chris Archer (TB)
The Red Sox are the favorites to win the AL East, but either the Rays and Blue Jays could certainly make some noise. Chris Archer and Aaron Sanchez were the keys to each team’s rotation last season, and will face one another next weekend.
*All projected matchups as of Sunday night’s probables
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