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Marty’s musings: the summer heats up

Some divisions are over, others are far from decided.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-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 to 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 Dodgers are more dominant than ever in their history, Giancarlo Stanton continues his quest to be MLB’s best slugger, a couple Orioles pitchers do something we haven’t seen in awhile, and MLB mourns the passing of two of their own.

News in Numbers

68 - Age of Don Baylor, who passed away on Monday. Baylor served as the first-ever manager of the Colorado Rockies, and is well known as a hit-by-pitch machine. Baylor suited up for nearly 3,200 games over the course of a 17-year playing career, predominantly with the Orioles and Angels.

13 - Seasons in a Phillies uniform for catcher Darren Daulton, who died at the age of 55 last week. Daulton is beloved in Philadelphia since acting as one of the faces of the successful 1990s teams. Both Daulton and Baylor succumbed to cancer.

8 - Immaculate innings thrown so far in 2017. Rick Porcello’s nine-pitch, three-strikeout inning against the Rays on Wednesday set a new MLB record. The Red Sox won 8-2, sweeping the two game mini-series in Tampa.

1,000 - Hits for Mike Trout, who passed the thousand threshold by hitting a double against the Orioles Dylan Bundy on Wednesday. He followed up number 1,000 with a home run two innings later. Despite missing significant time earlier in the year, Trout is positioning himself for yet another MVP run, especially as he propels the Angels towards a wild card spot.

10 - Consecutive games with an extra-base hit for Astros’ third-baseman Alex Bregman. He is the first player to hit the double-digit games mark since Paul O’Neill did it in 2001.

18 - Game lead in the National League West for the Los Angeles Dodgers. It is the largest lead the Dodgers have ever had this early in the season, including their time in Brooklyn and LA. On August 12th, the Dodgers sealed a winning season and are projected to win 110 games and finish up in the West by 20 games, per FanGraphs.

2 - Grand slams in two days for Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler. The Cards are only 1 game behind the Cubs in the central, and 4.5 games out of a wild card spot. St. Louis swept the Royals in a four-game set last week.

29 - Straight games in which Aaron Judge has struck out at least one time. He’s had a rough second-half in which his wRC+ has cratered from 198 in the first half to 74 since the All Star break.

20 - Strikeouts over his last two games (ten in each game) for Orioles starter Dylan Bundy. Bundy is the first Baltimore pitcher with consecutive double-digit Ks since Mike Mussina did it in the summer of 1999.

1 - Home run given up to a left-handed batter by Orioles closer Zach Britton. A’s first baseman Matt Olson hit a solo shot in the eighth inning Sunday. The last LHB home run he allowed by Britton was against Michael Saunders on April 29, 2013.

0 - Damaged ligaments for Bryce Harper who sprained his knee, but came away much better than the gruesome-looking fall looked. Harper slipped on a wet base on Friday night, and all the beltway held their breath as the Nationals examined him. Though he does have a bone bruise (which is definitely not good), it’s a best-case-scenario.

2 - Three-run home runs for Andrew Benintendi on Saturday, who drove in six runs in a Boston 8-3 victory over the Yankees. The Red Sox took two out of three games against New York and sit in first place by 5.5 games. They face off again next weekend, this time in Fenway.

42 - Home runs for Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, who leads the league. It’s the most he’s hit in a single season in his career.

6 - Straight wins for the Mariners, who are one of nine teams competing for the American League wild card and within four games of a playoff spot.

Matchups to Watch

Tuesday, August 15

Jacob deGrom (NYM) v. Sonny Gray (NYY), 7:05 ET

Gray has had some rough luck in his first two starts in pinstripes. He takes on a pathetic Mets team that is nine games under .500. deGrom went 6 ⅔ shutout innings in a win against the Phillies in his last outing.

Thursday, August 17

Mike Clevinger (CLE) v. Jose Berrios (MIN), 1:10 ET

The Thursday matinee pits the surging Twins against the division-leading Tribe. The Twins are 4.5 games back of Cleveland and in the thick of it, half a game behind the Angels for the second wild card spot.

Friday, August 18

Ricky Nolasco (LAA) v. Dylan Bundy (BAL), 7:05 ET

Don’t look now, but the Angels are sitting in a playoff spot at the moment despite some pretty rough starting pitching. They take on the Orioles in hitter-friendly Oriole Park this weekend. Bundy has put together two excellent starts in a row, and Mike Trout has been fantastic as always.

Corey Kluber (CLE) v. Ian Kennedy (KC) 8:10 ET

The Royals were positioning themselves for a playoff run until running into the Cardinals buzz-saw in a four game sweep last week. They face Cleveland in an important series that may make-or-break their ability to jump back into the postseason race.

Saturday, August 19

TBD (NYY) v. Chris Sale (BOS), 7:10 ET

Chris Sale went 7 strong innings against the Yanks on Sunday night and the Red Sox are looking to add to their divisional lead in a three-game home series next weekend. It’s the first time the Yankees and Red Sox have been in first and second place this late in the season in quite a few years.

*Pitching matchups as of the previous Sunday


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