Welcome to “Marty's Musings,” my weekly column of numbers summarizing the past week in Major League Baseball. I am your guide through 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 Dodgers extend their winning streak to double-digits, while the Rockies go in the opposite direction. Also, the Giants finally win a June series, and Mookie Betts has himself a day for the surging Red Sox.
News in Numbers
10 - Straight victories for the Dodgers, a streak that was snapped by the Angels on Monday night. LA posted a league-best 21-7 June and took control in a surprisingly competitive National League West.
8 - Consecutive losses for the Rockies, who finally snapped their streak against the DBacks on Friday night. Unfortunately for Colorado, they lost the next two games of the series. With the Dodgers currently on fire, and the Diamondbacks remaining competitive, Colorado has fallen into third place, seven games behind LA and a handful behind the second place Diamondbacks (though they remain comfortably in possession of the second Wild Card slot).
30 - Teams that Craig Kimbrel has earned a save against over the course of his career. Team number 30 was the Twins, and Monday night Kimbrel closed out a 4-1 victory. Kimbrel has been one of the best relievers in baseball this season and the most reliable arm in Boston’s ‘pen.
1 - Series wins in the month of June for the San Francisco Giants. The Giants took advantage of a stumbling Rockies team and earned their first sweep since they beat the (resting-for-the-playoffs) Dodgers in the season finale last September.
8 - RBIs for Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts on Sunday afternoon. Boston managed 21 hits in a 15-1 drilling of the last place Blue Jays. Boston seems to be hitting on all cylinders and are currently 12 games above .500.
29 - Catcher interferences in Jacoby Ellsbury’s career. This past week, he tied the current leader, Pete Rose.
0 - Strikeouts for Justin Verlander in his last start, for the first time in 331 appearances. JV owned the longest active streak of appearances with a K, but only went 3 ⅓ innings against Cleveland on Sunday. The Tribe managed seven runs on nine hits and earned three walks, taking the slugfest 11-8.
9 - Leadoff homers for Astros outfielder George Springer, who was named to the American League All Star Game roster Sunday night. Springer is only four homers away from the MLB record for leadoff homers, which is currently held by Alfonso Soriano.
4 - Stolen bases for Nats shortstop Trea Turner on Tuesday night. The stolen bases came with some controversy as (former) Cubs catcher Miguel Montero placed the entirety of the blame on former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta. Turner is the first player in Nationals history with two seasons of 30 or more stolen bases, despite the fact he has yet to play a full season. Washington placed Turner on the disabled list with a fractured wrist after being hit by a Pedro Strop pitch on Thursday.
Matchups to Watch
Tuesday, July 4
Brad Peacock (HOU) v. Sean Newcomb (ATL), 7:35 ET
Houston is running away with the AL West, but the Braves have been hovering around .500 without their best player; in fact, Atlanta has the best record in the NL since Freddie Freeman went down with a fractured wrist. Newcomb is in his rookie season and through 24 innings has only allowed four earned runs.
Patrick Corbin (ARI) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD), 9:10 ET
The Diamondbacks are making some unexpected noise in the NL West, but the surging Dodgers remain in control. While Corbin has been adequate, Kershaw has been superb. What better way to celebrate America then by watching some fireworks from the league’s best pitcher?
Thursday, July 6
Chris Sale (BOS) v. Jacob Faria (TB), 7:10 ET
Every Chris Sale game is a must-watch for anyone who wants to see a quick-working power pitcher, but the intrigue here surrounds Jacob Faria. Through five starts, he has allowed only eight earned runs. He has gone at least six innings in every game and has mustered a quality start every time out. The Rays are currently in a wildcard spot chasing the Red Sox and behind the Yankees.
Zach Davies (MIL) v. MIke Montgomery (CHC), 2:20 ET
The quietest and least-celebrated divisional leader July Fourth has to be the Milwaukee Brewers. While we’re busy celebrating the Astros, Nationals, and Dodgers huge divisional leads, the Brew Crew has maintained their hold on the NL Central. In a makeup game, the Brewers visit the Cubs who are struggling to get more than one game over .500. Chicago has been hovering around .500 for most of the year and while many of us expect them to eventually overtake Milwaukee, the burden is on the Cubs to prove us right.
Friday, July 7
R.A. Dickey (ATL) v. Max Scherzer (WAS), 7:05 ET
Max Scherzer is doing his best to wrestle the “best pitcher in baseball” label from Clayton Kershaw. Scherzer has 151 strikeouts over 113 innings and has only walked 24 guys all season. In his last start, he went six innings against the Cubs and gave up only one run on two hits.
Sunday, July 9
David Price (BOS) v. Chris Archer (TB), 1:10 ET
David Price has has had his ups-and-downs for Boston this season. He missed significant time at the start with an injury, complained about the Boston media, and even had works with NESN color-man Dennis Eckersley. Despite all this, he’s been effective, though not spectacular. With Chris Sale, Boston doesn’t need Price to be their lead pitcher, but through seven starts he’s allowed at least three runs in six of them. A step forward from Price could be the difference between a very close AL East race and a Boston runaway.
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