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Marty’s Musings: the mid-May update

A young star emerges in the Bronx, and a familiar name is on fire in DC.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-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 we look at April’s home run totals, Billy Hamilton’s race to 200 stolen bases, and Ryan Zimmerman’s absurdly productive start to the year. All that, plus Matt Albers does something we’ve all been expecting for years.

News in Numbers

863 - Total home runs in MLB for the month of April. It is the second-most of any April since 2000 which was the height of the “Steroid Era.” While strikeouts are at an all-time high, homers are nearing peak as well.

13 - Home runs for Aaron Judge who has been an absolute monster at the plate so far this season. The Yankees starting right fielder has already amassed 2.1 fWAR and has a wRC+ of 222. He’s the early leader in the AL Rookie of the Year race.

5 - RBIs, including four from a ninth-inning grand slam, for Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger on Saturday night. Due to some injuries above him on the depth chart, Bellinger made an early-season debut, and with his current performance, is making it very hard for the Dodgers to send him back down to Triple-A. In only 11 games, he has seven extra base hits including five home runs.

48 - Combined strikeouts in the Cubs/Yankees series finale at Wrigley Field on Sunday night. The six hour, five minute marathon consisted of 13 pitching changes and two ‘seventh inning’ stretch. Not only did Chicago and New York set the record for the most strikeouts in a game, it is the longest interleague game of all time as well as the longest Sunday Night Baseball game ever. The Cubs will be glad the Yankees are leaving town, as New York swept the series in dramatic fashion. Chicago lost two one-run games including Sunday and Friday, when Hector Rondon blew a two-out save thanks to a Brett Gardner three-run homer.

13 - Consecutive outs that came via the strikeout for Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers closer has a 50 percent K-rate, and has 23 strikeouts in only 11 13 innings.

73 - Strikeouts for Chris Sale over his first seven starts in a Red Sox uniform. He has double digit strikeouts in each of his last six games. There are only two pitchers in Boston history with five consecutive games of ten strikeouts or more, and Sale is looking to blow past that mark. Despite his worst start of the year (six innings, four runs, but still ten strikeouts) against the Twins yesterday, the Sox managed a ‘W.”

1 - Career saves for Matt Albers, who finally notched his first ever save in 461 appearances. Albers came up in 2006, and has been a reliever most of his MLB career. Our eyes turn to you, Ryan Webb, with 375 saveless relief appearances and counting. Webb currently is rostered by the Giants Triple-A affiliate Sacramento River Cats. He already has two saves on the season for the Cats.

.907 - Slugging percentage of Ryan Zimmerman, who is destroying baseballs on a seemingly nightly basis. Zim has a .435/.475/.907 slash line and a 253 wRC+. He’s been the best hitter in baseball.

15 - Errors for the Red Sox on their nine game homestand last week against the Yankees, Cubs, and Orioles. Boston went 4-5 in large part due to subpar defense and a lack of home runs. Despite their power sputtering, Boston’s offensive fire came to life over the weekend, when on Saturday and Sunday, Boston scored 28 total runs in Minnesota.

203 - Career stolen bases for Reds speedster Billy Hamilton, who reached the 200-mark the fourth fastest in MLB history. He is only 26 years old and already has 203 stolen bases on 244 tries.

6-4-3 - Triple play the Orioles turned against Boston Tuesday night. It was an unconventional and strange triple play that ended up coming to pass on a potential infield fly that dropped in for a hit. Mitch Moreland was in no man’s land, and for some reason Jackie Bradley Jr. left first base.

60 - Minimum days spent on the DL for Noah Syndergaard, who will not throw a ball for at least another six weeks. The Mets suspended Matt Harvey for an undisclosed reason over the weekend, lost Steven Matz to an elbow injury, and are generally struggling with starting pitching depth early in the year.

27 - Career catcher interferences for Jacoby Ellsbury, who is rapidly approaching Pete Rose’s MLB record of 29 for a career. It’s a bizarre thing to have a skill(?) which induces a CI call; the strangeness is worth mentioning.

300 - Career home runs for Matt Holliday who blasted number 300 against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, May 8

Jake Arrieta (CHC) v. Antonio Senzatela (COL), 8:40 ET

Arrieta has been underwhelming so far in 2017 and has only gone more than six innings in one start. He has given up three or more runs in his last five starts. Senzatela on the other hand has been a big reason why the Rockies are in first place by 2.5 games over the Dodgers. He’s gone six or seven innings in his last five starts, and currently has an ERA of 2.84.

Wednesday, May 10

Wade Miley (BAL) v. Stephen Strasburg (WAS), 7:05 ET

A battle of the beltway, the first-place O’s head down to DC to face the first-place Nationals. Stephen Strasburg has been consistent, allowing two or three earned runs through seven innings in each of his first five starts. (Start number six broke the pattern, with no runs but just short of six innings of work.) Miley was knocked out of his Saturday afternoon start after facing only three batters, because two hit line drives that ricocheted off of him.

Thursday, May 11

Dallas Keuchel (HOU) v. Michael Pineda (NYY), 7:05 ET

Keuchel has been a must-watch pitcher so far in 2017, despite living largely outside the zone. He’s always had the Yankees number, having started five games against them in the regular season (1.63 ERA) and the 2015 Wild Card game in which he gave up only three hits in six shutout innings.

Saturday, May 13

Ervin Santana (MIN) v. MIke Clevenger (CLE), 4:10 ET

Santana has been one of the best pitchers in the AL so far, though he did stumble against the Red Sox on Sunday. In Santana’s first half dozen starts he did not give up more than one earned run. He’s the first pitcher since Walter Johnson to allow one or zero earned runs in his first six starts.

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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