Welcome to ‘Marty’s Musings’, my weekly column of numbers summarizing the happenings in the baseball world. I am your guide for taking an analytic look at the news and notes throughout baseball, and highlighting this week’s key pitching matchups.
This week, veteran Albert Pujols achieves an elite milestone, journeyman Ichiro bids us farewell, and the Dodgers and Mets get served up serious injuries to some key players. It’s all in this week’s Musings.
News and Notes
32 - Members of the 3,000 hit club, with the Angels’ Albert Pujols the most recently minted member. Pujols slapped number 3,000 Friday night against the Mariners’ Mike Leake. Of his current 3,002 hits, Pujols is in elite company, with over 600 of those hits being home runs. Only Pujols, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Alex Rodriguez are in 3,000 / 600 club.
2651 - MLB games played by Japanese superstar Ichiro Suzuki. Ichiro is a cultural icon, and although his reuniting with the Ms didn’t go as planned, it did not go nearly as bad as it could have, considering Ichiro is 44 years old. He will stay as an on-field advisor in Seattle, and the word ‘retirement’ was conspicuously absent from the press release. With Seattle opening the 2019 season in Japan next year, it would not be surprising to see Ichiro take the field and retire after the opening series.
32 - Home runs the Red Sox put up in April 2018, compared with 15 from last season. In my season preview, I identified the Red Sox key to success as ‘power’ and they’ve been swinging for the fence in May as well. Going into Tuesday’s action, Boston has hit 46 home runs already this season. Mookie Betts is leading the charge, as he hit his fourth three-home run game of his career last week.
0.5 - fWAR for Dodgers’ shortstop Corey Seager. Seager is done for the year, and will not be able to try to stop his near 6-win performance in 2017. A huge blow to the Dodgers was followed up with more bad news, and Clayton Kershaw ended up on the DL with bicep tendonitis. LA is a paltry 15-19 entering this week’s series against the NL West-leading Diamondbacks.
0 - Series lost by the best-of-the-NL Arizona Diamondbacks. With the Dodgers struggling to stay healthy, and the Rockies a full step behind them, the DBacks are cruising along as the hottest team in the National League. AJ Pollock’s three home runs last Monday helped him cruise to Player of the Week honors.
2.39 - Starters’ ERA for the Houston Astros who are nearly a full earned run better than the next-best Cardinals. Gerrit Cole had a stellar 16 K, complete game shutout against the red-hot Diamondbacks. Justin Verlander had a 14 K performance earlier in the week against the Yankees, but the bullpen managed to blow the game.
15-1 - Current streak for the Yankees, entering into this week’s matchup with the Red Sox. In those 16 games, the Yanks won three of four against Houston, and walked off Cleveland twice in a three-game sweep of the Indians in New York.
4 - Pitchers that combined for a collective no-hitter for the Dodgers last week. Walker Buehler started off with six no hit innings, in what is only his third MLB start. The bullpen did the rest, with Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia, and Adam Liberatore finishing off the 12th combined no-no.
0 - AL Central teams were above .500 going into Monday’s actions. A combined 35 games under .500 puts the Central as the worst to date. Yuck.
Matchups to Watch
Tuesday, May 8
Sean Newcomb (ATL) v. Blake Snell (TB), 7:10 ET
Perhaps you haven’t noticed yet this year, but this Braves team is really fun to watch! Atlanta’s youngsters of Ronald Acuna has been a blast to watch, while veteran Nick Markakis is putting up a great year of his own. This matchup lines up two of the younger, more interesting pitchers on each team against one another.
Wednesday, May 9
*A great day to take off and watch matchups from mid-afternoon, deep into the night*
Gerrit Cole (PIT) v. Dan Mengden (OAK), 3:35 ET
Cole’s 106 game score in his last start was the best of any starter in MLB so far this year. He is rapidly becoming one of the best pitchers in baseball, and takes on an Athletics lineup that is want to K often (they sit in the bottom-ten).
David Price (BOS) v. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY), 7:05 ET
The middle game of a series that pits the two teams with the best record in the game to date. The Yankees have been on fire since their last series with Boston, but despite a torrid last few weeks, can’t gain any ground on Boston, which is doing much of the same.
Patrick Corbin (ARI) v. Alex Wood (LAD), 10:10 ET
There’s no such thing as a ‘do-or-die’ series in May, but as the Dodgers continue to spiral, a series win at home against the Diamondbacks would help ease some of the recent pain. The season is plenty long, but an Arizona sweep would deepen the current wounds being suffered in LA.
Thursday, May 10
Friday, May 11
Max Scherzer (WAS) v. Zack Greinke (ARI), 9:40 ET
The Nationals have struggled mightily so far, and currently sit in fourth place. They can make a statement this weekend against Arizona. With Scherzer and Strasburg lined up to start the first two games, this could be the series where arizona’s streak comes to an end.
*All pitching matchups as of Sunday night’s pitching probables
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