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, the Red Sox and Orioles throw their weight around in a ridiculous ordeal, the Nationals lose a major piece for at least six months, and the Mets have health problems of their own. Meanwhile, Eric Thames is quickly becoming a household name this side of the Pacific.
News in Numbers
6-9 — Months that Nationals’ outfielder Adam Eaton will be out due to a torn ACL suffered last week. Eaton stumbled over the first base bag and torn his ACL in a strange but impactful injury that will end his season.
1.1 — Innings pitched by Noah Syndergaard in Sunday’s start against DC. Syndergaard refused an MRI earlier in the week and exited the game with an injury. He gave up five runs despite getting only four batters out, and was part of the problem in a 23-5 thumping.
10 — RBIs for Anthony Rendon in the 23-5 annihilation of the Mets Sunday. He’s only the 13th player in MLB history to post double-digit runs batted in.
4 — Games MLB suspended Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes for throwing at Manny Machado’s head, after Machado ‘spiked’ Dustin Pedroia last weekend. Barnes continued what really amounted to much ado about nothing, but Dustin Pedroia missed a number of games after Machado’s hard slide.
1 — African-born player to ever play in the Major League Baseball. Gift Ngoepe made history on Wednesday when he suited up for the Pirates. He notched his first hit and played second base.
8 — Home runs for Eric Thames...against the Reds alone. So far against Cincy, Thames has posted a .440/.576/1.400 slash line, and on the season, he has a total of 11 home runs and an fWAR of 1.8.
9-1 — Deficit the Yankees had against the Orioles on Friday night, before an improbable 14-11 walkoff win. The series continued in bizarre fashion when on Sunday, the O’s blew a 4-2 ninth inning lead due in part to an oddly called balk, but ended up winning in the eleventh. The Orioles and Yankees both have a 15-8 record and are atop the AL East.
3 — Consecutive home runs for the Dodgers, erasing a 5-1 deficit and winning on a walkoff, 6-5, against the Phillies. Yasiel Puig, Cody Bellinger, and Justin Turner all went yard against Hector Neris. Joely Rodriguez did his part to put the nail in his own team’s coffin, allowing multiple singles including the game-winner by Adrian Gonzalez.
17 — Years of age for Notre Dame (HS) shortstop and flamethrower Hunter Greene, whom SI featured on its cover last week. He is the first high school baseball player to be on SI since Bryce Harper. Greene throws the ball 102 miles per hour, has excellent power at the plate and reportedly is a plus-defender. He’s certainly worth keeping an eye on as we get closer to the June draft.
Matchups to Watch
Monday, May 1
Dylan Bundy (BAL) v. Rick Porcello (BOS), 7:10 ET
The O’s face off in Boston after hosting the Red Sox last weekend in Baltimore. Dylan Bundy has been excellent; in his last start against Boston, he went seven shutout innings. He faces off against reigning AL Cy Young winner Rick Porcello. Hopefully the childishness is over, and we can get back to watching some great interdivisional baseball.
Johnny Cueto (SF) v. Clayton Kershaw, 10:10 ET
With Madison Bumgarner’s, shall we say, youthful indiscretion, Johnny Cueto is now the de facto ace of the Giants staff. At 9-17, the Giants are going to have to see some major improvement from Cueto, who currently has a 5.10 ERA and FIP. The Dodgers are hovering around .500 and are looking to keep pace with the DBacks and Rockies, both of whom overachieved in April.
Tuesday, May 2
Sonny Gray (OAK) v. Ervin Santana (MIN), 8:10 ET
So far in the Twin Cities, Santana has given up only three runs in 35 innings, posting a sub-one ERA. Last week he shut down the Rangers over seven innings. Gray has been on the disabled list nursing a back injury but will be making his season debut on Tuesday night.
Thursday, May 4
Zack Greinke (ARI) v. Max Scherzer (WAS), 1:05 ET
An afternoon in DC matches up Scherzer, whose 2.94 ERA is 31 percent better than league average, against Greinke and his 3.19 ERA, which is 28 percent better than league average. Greinke so far this season has posted over a 26 percent K-rate, while Scherzer’s over 30 percent. Expect to see plenty of whiffs Thursday afternoon.
Friday, May 5
Michael Pineda (NYY) v. Kyle Hendricks (CHC), 2:20 ET
A rare Friday matinee pits two teams that rarely play against one another. It will be Aroldis Chapman’s return to Wrigley after blowing Game 7 of the World Series and nearly banishing the Cubs to yet another year in the championship desert.
Dallas Keuchel (HOU) v. Jesse Chavez (LAA), 10:07 ET
Keuchel’s results so far this season have been reminiscent of his 2015 Cy Young-winning campaign. Yesterday, he shut down Oakland, going 7.2 innings of one-run ball. On the season he has a 1.21 ERA, though his 3.35 FIP tells a bit of a different story. The most interesting thing about Keuchel is how many pitches he’s thrown outside the zone. He’s been hovering around the 30 percent mark, which will be interesting to see if he can maintain while limiting walks.
Sunday, May 7
Cole Hamels (TEX) v. James Paxton (SEA), 4:10 ET
James Paxton’s miniscule 1.14 FIP is representative of how dominant he’s been so far on the hill. In 32.1 innings, he has struck out 39 batters and walked only six. He has yet to give up a home run and has given up runs in just one of his five starts.