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Marty’s musings: who knows how the Wests will be won

Four-game sweeps, injuries, and a demotion. Yup, it’s August.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-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, a key reliever hits the disabled list, the King is banished to the pen, and the Red Sox bury the Orioles further in the standings thanks to two MVP contenders. All this news and more in this week’s Musings.

News and Notes

10 - Total bases on Thursday night for Red Sox MVP-candidate, Mookie Betts. Betts hit for the cycle in the series finale against Toronto. He leads the league in hitting, and passed an injured Mike Trout for the most fWAR in baseball.

182 - Current wRC+ for J.D. Martinez, who is neck-in-neck with Trout and Betts in AL MVP projections. Martinez had two doubles on Sunday, following up on a two-home-run game on Saturday. Betts and Martinez smoked the Orioles in the Red Sox three game thumping of the Orioles. The O’s were mathematically eliminated from the division on August 10th.

398 - Number of starts in Felix Hernandez’ 13-year career with the Seattle Mariners. Manager Scott Servais told Felix that he’d be moving to the bullpen for the foreseeable future. As a starter this year, Hernandez has struggled mightily, posting a 5.73 ERA, 5.03 FIP, and having accumulated only 0.4 fWAR in 23 starts. In addition, his strikeout rate is the lowest of his career. With the Athletics in the driver’s seat for the second AL wild card, the Mariners hope ‘The King’ can help from the ‘pen.

1 - Appearance in an A’s uniform for Fernando Rodney,who made his Oakland debut yesterday. The A’s acquired Rodney from the flailing Twins, in the hopes he can help them in late inning situations as they try to fend off the Mariners.

7/14 - The last time the Astros won a game at home. The Mariners lost their lead to the A’s in the wild card race, but they completed their first-ever four-game sweep of the Astros in Houston. Only two game separate Houston from second-place Oakland, with only 1.5 games separating Oakland from Seattle.

~30 - Days expected to miss for Kenley Jansen, whom the Dodgers placed on the disabled list with an irregular heartbeat. The unexpected DL stint is rough news for a Dodgers team that already has shown how much they need their star closer. The Rockies won Saturday’s game on a walkoff home run, and they followed it up in Sunday’s matinee, with a Chris Iannetta walk-off walk.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, August 13

Jacob deGrom (NYM) v. Luis Severino (NYY), 7:05 ET

It has been a while since the Subway Series had any real juice, but this matchup is critical for the Yankees, as they continue to play well, but have reason to worry about their ace, Luis Severino, who has not given up fewer than three earned runs in any start since July 1st. During that time, he’s been slapped around by the Rays (seven runs in five innings), the Royals (six runs in 4 ⅓ innings, and Toronto (three runs in only five innings). deGrom on the other hand, was masterful in his most recent start against the Reds, and remains in the Cy Young conversation despite being on the receiving end of some of the worst run support in the game.

Madison Bumgarner (SF) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD), 10:10 ET

For the foreseeable future, this matchup will remain the best-of-the-best in the NL. In Bumgarner’s last start, he threw a seven-inning shutout against the reigning world champion Astros. Although Kershaw has not been his dominating self, he’s kept the Dodgers in every game he’s pitched recently.

Tuesday, August 14

Jhoulys Chacin (MIL) v. Jose Quintana (CHC), 2:20 ET

The Brewers trail the Cubs by two games in the standings, and remain the underdog in the NL Central. In this short, two-game, midweek series, they miss Cole Hamels, who has stepped into the Cubs rotation pitching great ball. Instead, the Brew Crew is hoping to strike against Quintana in game one, and Kyle Hendricks in game two.

James Paxton (SEA) v. Mike Fiers (OAK), 10:05 ET

The Mariners are coming off their best series of the year, but still trail Oakland who overtook them for the second wild card slot. This middle game, of a three game set, will be critical to whichever team loses game one.

Wednesday, August 15

Tyler Anderson (COL) v. Gerrit Cole (HOU), 8:10 ET

An intriguing interleague matchup, the Rockies are coming off the high of taking two games out of three against the Dodgers, while the Diamondbacks remain a game up on both in the loss column. The Astros control their own destiny in the AL, but will be licking their wounds from a four-game sweep at home.

Thursday, August 16

Tanner Roark (WAS) v. John Flaherty (STL), 7:15 ET

Neither the Nationals nor the Cardinals are truly out of their divisional races, and both can make a run at the wild card, if they fall short in the division. However, the time for each of these teams to make a move is now. Washington goes to St. Louis for a four-game set, where each team will either remain middling, or take a step forward to go on a streak of some kind.

Friday, August 17

Charlie Morton (HOU) v. Edwin Jackson (OAK), 10:05 ET

The NL West has one of the more intriguing pennant races going, with three of the five teams in the division making a playoff run. Houston will be glad to get out of Houston, for a much needed break after continued losing at home. The ways the A’s are playing however, they might not get much reprieve.

*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