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.
News in Numbers
351 - Double plays grounded into by Albert Pujols, who passed Cal Ripken for the all-time record. It’s certainly not something to celebrate, as Pujols accomplished the feat in nearly 500 fewer games than Ripken.
1 - Game started by Jaime Garcia in a Twins uniform before Minnesota dealt him to the Yankees. Apparently a team can be both a buyer and a seller within a week. In his first start as a Yankee, Garcia got slapped around by the Indians, going only 4 ⅔ innings and giving up five earned runs.
4 - Game sweep of the White Sox for the Boston Red Sox, who won handily on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and in dramatic walk-off fashion on Friday. Of the 107 four-game series this season, this is the 16th sweep, and 13th by a home team. Boston is on a five-game winning streak, and sit three games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East.
4 - Hits in Rafael Devers’s sixth game this year, after Boston called him up to replace a DFA’d Pablo Sandoval at third base. Only four other 20-or-younger Boston players have ever posted four hits in a game: Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Tony Conigliaro, and Dalton Jones. No pressure.
1 - Home run saved by Indians center fielder Austin Jackson who completely flipped over in midair, falling into the Boston bullpen. It’s not often a player can elicit applause for taking a run away from a home team, but as Hanley Ramirez said, “WOW!”
2 - Cycles in Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays history. Last week against the Astros, Evan Longoria successfully stretched a late-game single into a double (and was originally called out before being vindicated by replay). He joined Melvin (the artist formerly known as BJ) Upton as the only two Rays to ever hit for the cycle.
10 - Number of strikeouts versus only one walk for Yu Darvish in his first game in a Dodgers uniform. With back issues plaguing Clayton Kershaw and the temperamental blisters of Rich Hill, Darvish is a welcome addition to LA, despite them steamrolling their way to the NL West pennant.
5 - Complete games this season for Ervin Santana, who notched the most recent last week against the Padres. Santana has been hit-or-miss this season for the Twins. He’s only amassed 1.4 WAR due to several clunkers, and he’s allowed five or more runs in seven of his 22 starts.
Matchups to Watch
Wednesday, August 8
Chris Sale (BOS) v. Austin Pruitt (TB), 7:10 ET
Sale was scheduled to pitch Sunday against the White Sox, but after a rainout, Boston rearranged their rotation to give him the divisional matchups against both Tampa Bay and New York. The Rays are 5.5 games behind the Red Sox in the division and 2.5 games behind the Yankees for the wild card.
Thursday, August 10
Tyler Skaggs (LAA) v. James Paxton (SEA), 10:10 ET
James Paxton has quietly had one of the most successful breakouts of any pitcher in the majors. He has already put up over 4 wins, he is tied with Chris Sale for the best ERA in the game, and his RA9-WAR is fifth-best in baseball. He has gone at least six innings in each of his last eight starts.
Yu Darvish (LAD) v. Anthony Banda (ARI), 10:10 ET
Darvish’s first start in a Dodgers uniform was excellent; he allowed only three hits in seven innings against the Mets. Los Angeles is well-ahead of the Diamondbacks, up over 15 games. This will be Banda’s third start of the season for the DBacks. With Robbie Ray on the DL with a concussion (one he suffered after taking a liner to the head), Banda will fill in until he’s back.
Saturday, August 12
Drew Pomeranz (BOS) v. Luis Severino (NYY), 4:05 ET
Over his last five games Severino has been excellent, allowing only five runs over 33 innings. He’s been the best pitcher in the Bronx this year, and is helping the Yanks keep pace with Red Sox and stay atop the muddled AL Wild Card. Pomeranz, in the meantime, is having a good season of his own. In his last start he went 6 ⅓ innings and gave up only a solo home run to Chicago.
*Pitching matchups as of the previous Sunday