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Marty’s musings: some surprising first place teams

We all should wonder if Klu-bot is indeed a machine.

MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

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 the game, and highlighting this week’s key pitching matchups.

This week, the Mets continue their free-fall after a torrid 11-2 start to the season, an unlikely team takes over sole possession of first in the AL West, and the Brewers wrap-up a strong May. All this news and more in this week’s Musings.

News and Notes

1 - The longest ‘losing streak’ in May for the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers. The Brew Crew did not lose consecutive games the entire month, and posted a record of 19-8. Milwaukee has the same number of losses as the Cubs, but has won three additional games due to Chicago rainouts.

6 - Runs the Mets scored in a four-game set against the Cubs, who swept New York in Queens. The Mets are at a season-worse three games under .500, and sit in fourth place in the NL East. New York struck out 24 batters in a extra inning affair on Saturday, but still managed to lose when the bullpen game up six runs in the 14th.

100 - Consecutive batters faced without a walk for Indians ace Corey Kluber. Kluber has been the brightest spot for an underachieving Indians team that is just now starting to look like it belongs atop a lousy division. In 84 ⅔ innings, Kluber has 88 Ks, 10 walks, and only 11 earned runs.

183 - Plate appearances between walks for Javier Baez, who managed to draw a base on balls Thursday night. Baez is managing a strong 127 wRC+ despite barely walking at all this year, in part, due to a 27.5 percent home run to fly ball rate, about ten percentage points higher than his career average.

22 - Inning scoreless streak for Phillies hitters, who were swept by the Giants in San Francisco this weekend. Of all the people in Philly’s fairly potent lineup, it was Jake Arrieta who broke the streak, with a home run in the third inning on Sunday afternoon.

2-2 - Series split between the Red Sox and Astros, two teams who could be contending in this year’s ALCS. They don’t meet again until the second week of September, when the ‘stros visit Fenway for a three-game set.

1 - Day the Mariners have held sole possession of first place in the AL West: today. The Ms swept the Rays in a three-game series, and moved ahead of the Astros who lost to the Red Sox in the Sunday night matchup.

Matchups to Watch

Tuesday, June 5

Nathan Eovaldi (MIA) v. Max Scherzer (WAS), 7:05 ET

The best pitcher in the NL goes up against Nathan Eovaldi, who is trying to keep the momentum going on his comeback. Eovaldi went nearly two years between MLB starts, but posted a strong outing against Oakland.

*If you need another reason to keep an eye on this game, I’ll be in the stands, so if you’ll be around, let me know!

Patrick Corbin (ARI) v. Madison Bumgarner (SF), 10:10 ET

Bumgarner makes his season debut on Tuesday night, after missing over two months recovering from a spring training batted ball that broke a finger on his pitching hand. He goes up against the Diamondbacks, who have taken full advantage of an injured Giants team, and an underachieving Dodgers and Rockies squad.

Wednesday, June 6

Chase Anderson (PHI) v. Carlos Carrasco (CLE), 1:10 ET

The Indians are trying to find their groove, but are coming off a sweep at the hands of the underachieving Twins. They take on an interleague Cinderella, who have a better record than Cleveland, despite playing in a more difficult division.

Friday, June 8

Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) v. Jacob deGrom (NYM), 7:10 ET

Admittedly, the New York ‘Subway Series’ has lost much of his luster since it’s become commonplace on the schedule (and because the Yankees success so outshines the Mets). This matchup is interesting because although Jacob deGrom has given up only three earned runs over his last eight starts combined, the Mets are 2-6 in those eight games.

Saturday, June 9

Michael Wacha (STL) v. Luis Castillo (CIN), 4:10 ET

Wacha took a no hitter into the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon against the Pirates, but did not close out the deal. Meanwhile, Castillo struggled mightily against the lowly Padres. These are two pitchers at opposite ends of the spectrum, as Wacha seems to be getting better with each start, and Castillo can’t get anything going for a pathetic Reds team that has little to look forward to other than Joey Votto.

*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