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: we have two more streaks to discuss (one great, one terrible), another two divisional leaders clinch, and Kevin Kiermaier puts on a defensive show against the Red Sox.
News in Numbers
22 - Consecutive wins for the Indians, who set the modern record. The streak had a bit of everything including blow-out wins, sell-out crowds, and a come-from-behind walkoff. Despite losing to the Royals on Friday, the Tribe took the series, winning Saturday and Sunday.
2 - Teams that clinched their division over the weekend. The Indians may have lost a game to end their streak, but all that racking up of wins helped them clinch the AL Central early with a victory over the Royals. Meanwhile, the Astros clinched the West behind a strong outing by Justin Verlander, who shut down the Mariners 7-1. It’s the first division win by the Astros since 2001.
35 2/3 - Scoreless innings streak by Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg effectively shut down the Dodgers but did allow a small rally in the second inning of Sunday night’s game in which LA managed one run, the only run of the night allowed by Strasburg.
11 - Consecutive losses for the Dodgers, who finally broke their cold-streak with a 5-3 win over the listless Giants. The Dodgers were recently proclaimed to be able to challenge the 116-win Mariners for the most victories in a season. While they’ll no doubt win the West, that record seems out of the question at this stage. Despite the Diamondbacks’ 12-game winning streak and the Dodgers losing streak, LA still leads the division by double-digits.
2 - Amazing must-see catches by Kevin Kiermaier, who did his very best to keep the Rays in a game they ultimately lost on Friday night. The Red Sox defeated the Rays in 15 innings despite two gold-glove quality catches and a ninth inning game-tying home run. Unfortunately, it was all for naught, like the rest of Tampa’s season.
115 - Walks for Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who set the rookie record last week. Judge is rapidly becoming the latest of the three-true-outcome hitters. Judge strikes out ⅓ of the time, walks nearly 20 percent of the time, and has 43 home runs in only 624 plate appearances (nearly seven percent), leaving not a lot of room for balls in play.
82 - Wins for the Colorado Rockies, who clinched their first winning season since 2010. The Rockies have had their high and low points over the course of the season but still control their own fate and are currently in line for the second wild card spot.
1968 - The last time all MLB teams opened their season on the same day. Last week MLB released the 2018 schedule, which has every team opening up on Thursday, March 29th. Prepare for some potential wacky weather as the Tigers, Orioles, and Mets all open at home.
Matchups to Watch
Monday, September 18
Ervin Santana (MIN) v. Jaime Garcia (NYY), 7:05 ET
The way things are shaping up in the AL, it is highly likely this will be a “dress rehearsal” for Ervin Santana’s wild card start in the Bronx next month. The Twins have a couple games between them and the Angels but are quite a distance away from the Yankees, who look likely to host the AL wild card game.
Wednesday, September 20
Chris Sale (BOS) v. Wade Miley (BAL), 7:10 ET
Sale has been one of baseball’s best starters to this point, but his most recent outings have looked as if he’s showing signs of fatigue. He’ll take on a potent Orioles lineup that generally plays the Red Sox well. As Sale goes, so do Boston’s World Series chances, so his starts the rest of the year will be must-watch games.
Friday, September 22
Garrett Richards (LAA) v. Dallas Keuchel (HOU), 8: 10 ET
The Angels are chasing the Twins to take their shot at the one-game wildcard in New York, while the Astros are cruising to the likely number-two seed in the AL. The Angels are easing Richards back from the DL, as he’s yet to throw more than five innings in his September starts. Dallas Keuchel will be sharpening up in his next few starts before the ALDS.
Saturday, September 23
Corey Kluber (CLE) v. Aaron Moore (SEA), 4:10 ET
Kluber has been unbelievably good this summer. Sunday afternoon, he posted yet another no-run performance and he has three complete game shutouts since June 1st. The Indians are in great shape going into mid-September, and are looking to keep things rolling against the Mariners.
Madison Bumgarner (SF) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD), 9:10 ET
Despite the Dodgers running away with the division and the Giants cementing their place in the basement, this matchup remains a fun rivalry pitchers’ duel.