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, a rookie pitcher looks impressive in his MLB debut, the Pirates continue to make noise in the NL wild card race, and a half dozen players were inducted into the Hall of Fame. All this news and more in this week’s Musings.
News and Notes
7 - No hit innings in Daniel Poncedeleon’s Major League debut for the Cardinals last week. Poncedeleon took some time to recuperate after being nailed by a line drive, but he returned to triple-A strong, and then tossed seven no hit, three-walk innings against the Reds.
1989 - The last time the Yankees and Orioles traded a player, prior to Baltimore sending Zach Britton to New York in exchange for three pitching prospects. The move shores up an already strong bullpen, though David Robertson had a forgettable week against the Royals in which he was roughed up for several runs. The biggest question facing Britton is will he be able to return his walk rate to what it was prior to 2018.
0-7 - Kike Hernandez’ night at the plate on Tuesday. It got worse, as Dave Roberts called upon him to pitch in the 16th inning, and he took the loss as well.
~3 - Weeks before Aaron Judge can resume swinging a bat, after being hit in the wrist by Royals pitcher Jakob Junis. It’s a huge loss for New York, as these injuries often linger past the projected recovery time. Rumor has it New York is in the market for an outfielder to replace Judge for the time being.
1 - Starter on the Rays 25-man roster since their most recent trade, sending Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox. Chris Archer was literally the only healthy starter on the team’s depth chart. The Eovaldi trade returned Red Sox pitching prospect Jalen Beeks who may end up slotting into the rotation.
11 - Games in a row won by the Pittsburgh Pirates who are slowly, but steadily getting into the National League wild card race. With plenty of time to go, the Pirates are only four games out of second wild card.
6 - Hall of Fame inductees who were enshrined in Cooperstown this past Sunday. The four players voted in by the BBWAA were Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Trevor Hoffman, with Alan Trammell and Jack Morris entering via the Veterans Committee.
3 - Game sweep the Rangers put on the Astros this weekend, further putting the ‘stros behind the Red Sox for the best record in the American League. The Red Sox won three of four against the Twins, and were heartened by a strong start from the newly acquired Nathan Eovaldi.
2 - More days to go until the end of the non-waiver trading deadline. There are still plenty of pieces that can potentially fall between now and Tuesday afternoon, with the Yankees looking for an outfielder, the Red Sox potentially looking for a bullpen arm, and other teams like the Nationals still deciding if they’re going all-in, or full blow-up.
Matchups to Watch
Monday, July 30
Aaron Nola (PHI) v. David Price (BOS), 7:05 ET
The Phillies don’t play the Red Sox that often, and this is the first of a two-game set this week in Boston, to be followed up by a two-game set in Philadelphia next week. Aaron Nola has looked more and more like a budding ace for a Phillies team that is primed for an unexpected playoff run. David Price is trying to follow up on a strong outing against the Tigers, where he went 6 ⅓ shutout innings.
Gerrit Cole (HOU) v. James Paxton (SEA), 10:10 ET
Two of the rising stars in MLB face off against one another in a divisional showdown that pits the Astros, who are coming off a bad series against the Rangers, against the mariners, who are feeling the Athletics nipping at their heels.
Tuesday, July 31
Jon Lester (CHC) v. Jameson Taillon (PIT) 7:05 ET
The Cubs have struggled to get strong, consistent pitching performances from their starters, yet they still have the best record in the National League. The Pirates looked like they were going to continue their sell-off, but rang up 11 consecutive wins. This series against the Cubs should show us which Pirates team is real against good competition.
Thursday, August 2
Luis Severino (NYY) v. Chris Sale (BOS), 7:10 ET
Through four months, the Red Sox have looked like the all-around better team compared to New York. The Yankees are still in the AL East hunt, but will have to make up some group in head-to-head competition. The four-game set in Boston starts off with the best pitching matchup of the series, pitting both aces against one another.
Madison Bumgarner (SF) v. Zack Greinke, 9:40 ET
Greinke has been marvellous over the past two months, and positions the DBacks for a challenging push to take the NL West from the Dodgers. Meanwhile, Bumgarner has been hot-and-cold, and is looking to follow up on an eighth inning, two run performance against the Brewers his last time out of the gate.
Friday, August 3
Sean Newcomb (ATL) v. Jacob deGrom (NYM), 7:10 ET
Despite all the talk, Jacob deGrom is very likely to be starting this game in a Mets’ uniform. deGrom has more wins above replacement (5.2 per FanGraphs) than ‘wins’, five, and has been one of the best pitchers in the National League this season (not that the Mets can make any success of it). Newcomb is coming off a near-no-hitter, in which he went 8 ⅔ innings before giving up a single to the Dodgers’ Chris Taylor.
Saturday, August 4
J.A. Happ (NYY) v. Nathan Eovaldi (BOS), 4:05 ET
The shiniest new objects for both the Red Sox and Yankees square-off against one another in a battle of the ‘did we pick the right guy’. Eovaldi is a former Yankee, and so unlikely to have been traded back, while the Happ deal was minimally disruptive for a strong Yankees’ farm system.
*All pitching matchups as of Sunday night’s pitching probables
Ed’s Note: a previous version linked Giancarlo Stanton as the injured Yankee instead of Aaron Judge.
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