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Marty’s musings: all-star break

The All Star break is here, and we have learned quite a bit about all 30 teams in the first part of the year.

SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

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 Cardinals finally make a managerial change that probably should have happened five years ago, the Red Sox finish the first ‘half’ strong, and Albert Pujols and Gerrit Cole set some records. All this news and more in this week’s Musings.

News and Notes

6+ - Years Mike Matheny managed the St. Louis Cardinals before St. Louis dismissed their skipper on Saturday. Matheny led the Cards to the 2013 NL Pennant in his second year as manager, but remained plagued by analysts for his antiquated tactics. This season, the Cards never really stepped-up to compete with the Brewers and Cubs, and St. Louis has hovered around .500 most the year. Joe girardi has been linked as one of the favorites to replace Matheny.

-2 - Mariners run differential through the first half. Despite being 19 games over .500, and in a commanding position in the second AL Wild Card slot (though the A’s are putting on some pressure), the Ms have barely outscored their opponents. The Mariners were walked-off by the Rockies on Sunday, making them one of the more intriguing stories entering the second half.

177 - First half strikeouts for Astros ace Gerrit Cole. Cole set the Astros franchise record for most Ks before the All Star break. It’s a combination of the game being later, hitters fanning more, and Gerrit Cole’s raw ability to generate whiffs.

20/20 - Ramirez’ 29 home runs leads all of baseball, and his 20 steals make him one of the few pre-All Star 20/20 player in recent memory.

113.6 / 46 - Miles per hour exit velocity, and launch angle, for Mets’ prospect first baseman Peter Alonso, who blasted a go-ahead three run home run for the US team in Sunday’s Futures Game. It’s the only 113+MPH ball ever hit at a 40+ degree launch angle in the history of the StatCast era. With little to watch in Queens, Mets fans are clamoring for Alonso’s call-up, though they’ll probably end up with Tim Tebow on the roster this September instead.

12-1 - Red Sox record over their last 13 games. The Sox have put a bit of distance between themselves and the second-place Yankees. It feels like Boston wins every night, and one has to wonder if the Yankees are going to go all-out to catch a team that looks like they can potentially win 110 games. FanGraphs’ coolstandings projects Boston to win the AL East with a 106-56 record, a couple games ahead of New York.

7/13 - July 13th. The first day this season that the Dodgers woke up in sole possession of first place. It’s been a challenging year of injuries and ups-and-downs for LA, but it finally looks like they’ve turned the corner, into the contender we all expected them to be.

5 - Game-sweep by the Pirates over the Brewers, making Milwaukee limp into the All Star break. It was a really rough series for the Brew Crew, as they entered the series up one game over the Cubs, and left Pittsburgh 2 ½ games behind them.

23 - Consecutive scoreless innings posted by Athletics pitching last week, before the Astros put one on the board of the first inning on Tuesday. The streak was secondary news compared to the way in which Houston walked-it-off on a two-foot dribbler that scored a run.

51 - Current on-base streak for Rangers journeyman Shin-Shoo Choo. Choo has been an OBP machine, posting a nice 405 on-base percentage so far this year. He’s been worth 3.1 fWAR and has been a nice addition to an otherwise bad Rangers lineup.

630 - Career home runs for Albert Pujols, who now had tied Ken Griffey Jr. in career long-balls. It has been a rough year for Pujols, who is barely playing at a replacement player level, but longevity is something, and for that, we say congratulations, well done, it’s probably time to hang it up.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, July 16

Home Run Derby, 8:00 ET

This year’s HR Derby pits hometown slugger, and probably derby favorite, Bryce Harper against some unlikely competition. With Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton bowing out, the field also consists of Max Muncy, Rhys Hoskins, and Alex Bregman.

Tuesday, July 17

AL All Stars v. NL All Stars, 8:00 ET

It’s highly likely both pitchers will be teammates next week in the All Star Game, and also likely this could be an October preview. The Indians have not played at the caliber of the Yankees, Red Sox, or Astros, but are running away with their division.

Sunday, July 22

Jacob deGrom (NYM) v. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY), 8:05 ET

The series finale in a three-game set in which the Yankees are starting their number-five starter, despite the break. The Yanks are passing on starting Severino and and CC Sabathia to conserve innings, which doesn’t say much about the Mets offense.

*All pitching matchups as of Sunday night’s pitching probables

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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