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Marty’s musings: Dodgers stay hot, plus fun in the AL East

A cancer survivor returns to a contending team in an emotional start. That and more in this week’s Musings.

Milwaukee Brewers v Colorado Rockies Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

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 previews of some of this week's starting pitching matchups.

In this week’s Musings: Chad Bettis’s jubilant return; the Yankees, Red Sox, and Marlins all have sluggers worth a mention; Joey Votto’s streak comes to an end; and the Dodgers continue to show why they have the best record in baseball.

News in Numbers

7 - Shutout innings for Chad Bettis, who made his first start after returning from cancer treatment last Monday. Bettis followed up the gem with another strong seven innings in which he gave up three runs against the Brewers. Bettis was undergoing chemotherapy for testicular cancer, and is back with the Rockies as they make their first playoff run in a decade.

8 - Home runs in 21 games for newly called-up Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers. Boston third basemen had only 7 home runs in the other 102 games before the arrival of one of the youngest players in the league. So far, Devers has posted a 186 wRC+ and has put up over 1 win in his ⅛ of a season.

2 - Triple plays turned by Rafael Devers this year, one in the minors and one on Tuesday against the Cardinals. Is anyone going to argue that this kid isn’t special?

23 - Home runs so far in 2017 for Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez, who became the first backstop since Carlton Fisk to post at least 20 homers in each of his first two seasons in the bigs.

3 - Losses the Yankees have delivered to the Red Sox when Chris Sale pitches for Boston. The Red Sox have won 17 out of 21 of his other starts. New York only took home one victory from a three-game set in Boston, but unexpectedly, it was Sale’s start on Saturday. They sit five games behind Boston in the AL East but lead the crazy AL wild card race.

20 - Consecutive games in which Joey Votto reached base twice. He tied Barry Bonds for the second-longest streak, but did not make it to Ted Williams’s 21-game streak from 1941. Votto remains an underappreciated master at the plate.

45 - Home runs for Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Despite his 80-grade power, Stanton had never hit more than 37 home runs in a season. He set the Marlins’ franchise record last week and looks poised to get to 50 and beyond.

37 - Consecutive games with a strikeout for Yankees’ outfielder Aaron Judge. Judge is smashing home runs at a crazy clip, but he inevitably Ks at least once per game. Such is the new era in Major League Baseball.

30 - Teams that Twins starter Bartolo Colon has beaten during his 20-year MLB career. Colon notched number 30 against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday. It wasn’t a great pitched game, as Colon gave up four runs in six innings, but the Twins offense bailed him out in a 12-5 drubbing of the DBacks.

3 - Grand slams this year for the Reds’ Scooter Gennett. He tied the single-season record set by Devin Mesoraco in 2014. It’s only the seventh time in MLB history a player has hit three grand slams.

8 - Wins for the Dodgers when trailing after eight innings. Number 8 came via a Yasiel Puig walkoff home run on Wednesday. No other MLB team ha won more than 5 games when trailing after eight innings. The Dodgers have only lost 35 games so far this season; to put that into perspective, the Phillies lost number 35 on June 2nd.

0 - Teams over .500 that the Minnesota Twins have to face for the remainder of the season. The Twins are 5 games behind Cleveland for the division lead, and are tied with the Angels for the second AL Wild Card spot; their soft schedule could turn out to be crucial.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, August 21

Tyler Melville (MIN) v. Carlos Rondon (CHW), 5:10 ET

Dylan Gee (MIN) v. Carson Fulmer (CHW), after game 1

The Twins have positioned themselves nicely in the AL Wild Card race, and have five games against the lowly White Sox in four days. With a single-admission doubleheader on Monday, Minnesota can continue to stay relevant with a good result.

Wednesday, August 23

Drew Pomeranz (BOS) v. Corey Kluber (CLE), 7:05 ET

Pomeranz left his start early Friday night when he suffered from back spasms. He’s been throwing regularly and should be good to go on Wednesday, in what could be an ALDS preview. Kluber remains one of the best pitchers in the American League, with two of his four August starts being complete game one-run outings against the Yankees and Rockies.

Friday, August 25

Jake Odorizzi (TB) v. Michael Wacha (STL), 8:15 ET

The Rays are quickly falling out of wildcard contention while the Cardinals are looking to catch the Cubs. Unless the Rays have an extraordinary week, they are likely playing for 2018.

Saturday, August 26

Brad Peacock (HOU) v. Tyler Skaggs (LAA), 9:26 ET

While the Angels will not catch the Astros, they can make some noise in the wild card race with a strong showing against the ‘stros. Tyler Skaggs has only pitched 44 innings this season but is likely the Angels starter in a hypothetical one-and-done wild card game.


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