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Marty’s musings: is Mike Trout improving?

Extensions, deGrom’s excellence, and the struggling Red Sox.

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels Kirby Lee-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 we take a look at the multiple contract extensions signed, analyze opening week for the flailing Red Sox, discuss Chris Davis’ woes, and marvel at Mike Trout’s torrid 2019 piece. We also look ahead to some of the marquis matchups coming up this week.

All this news and more in this week’s Musings.

News and Notes

3 - Contract extensions signed last week. The most notable was the Ronald Acuna extension, which I analyzed mid-week. This looks like an absolute steal for the Braves. The Red Sox locked up Xander Bogaerts to a six-year, $120 million extension, while the Blue Jays locked up Randal Grichuk for five years at $52 million.

0 - Swings-and-misses generated on 49 Chris Sale fastballs. Sale signed an extension with Boston in the offseason, but has come out of the gate with a lower-than-usual 91 mile per hour fastball, down four tickets from his 2017 and 2018 average. The questions swirl surrounding whether this is done by design to not go all-out too early, or whether there’s an unlying issue.

4 - Consecutive games in which Mike Trout has homered. Over the first ten games, Trout has five home runs, 11 walks and only three strikeouts. Btbs alum Devan Fink puts this into a nice perspective with this summary of Trout’s early-season past. Is it possible Trout is improving??

24:2 - Strike-to-walk rate for Mets ace, and reigning NL Cy Young winner, Jacob deGrom. deGrom has been masterful the last year-plus; he’s tied Bob Gibson for the most consecutive quality starts, with 26, during which time he’s posted a 1.55 ERA, and has a 237 Ks to 34 walks over 185 ⅔ innings. Oh, and he also hit a home run in his most recent start. Wowzah.

.000/.148/.000 - Chris Davis’ current slash line through 27 plate appearances in 2019. Of the five walks he’s received, one somehow was intentional. Davis is still looking for his first hit of the season, and was the victim of many boo-birds in Baltimore last week. Baltimore has Davis signed up at $23 million per year though 2022. Yikes.

-26 - League-worst run differential for the defending champion Red Sox, who opened the season with a miserable 11-game West Coast road-trip. Boston sits at the bottom of the AL East with a surprising 3-8 record. Their 8.57 starters ERA is nearly two runs worse than the second-worse Cubs (another surprise). Boston opens at home tomorrow against the Blue Jays and are looking a new start coming off a solid 1-0 victory in Arizona on Sunday.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, April 8

Jameson Taillon (PIT) v. Jon Lester (CHC), 2:10 ET

The various projection systems were all-over-the-map with regards to the Cubs. There was no consensus was to whether they’d be a division-winner, or a .500 / sub-.500 team. Well, even before playing one game at home, the Northsiders are off to a horrible start and currently sit with a lowly 2-7 record. Jon Lester has been solid, going six innings and giving up two earned runs in his first two starts, but the Cubs bullpen blew the April 3rd game. The Cubs are looking for a restart on their first home-stand.

Tuesday, April 9

Matt Shoemaker (TOR) v. Chris Sale (BOS), 2:05 ET

Much like the Cubs, the Red Sox are looking for a fresh start in their home opener. They are the last MLB team to open at home, and are coming off a brutal west coast stretch in which the defense looked bad, the starting pitching looked awful, and the bats were relatively silent. Most importantly however, is how Chris Sale looks in his first start at Fenway this season.

Wednesday, April 10

James Paxton (NYY) v. Colin McHugh (HOU), 7:40 ET

Two favorites square-off this week as the Astros host the Yankees in Houston. In Paxton’s first two starts, he faced Baltimore, and did not manage to get out of the sixth inning. He will go up against a real offensive test in Houston this week. Colin McHugh went six innings and gave up one run in his most recent start which came against Oakland.

Thursday, April 11

Walker Buehler (LAD) v. Michael Wacha (STL), 1:15 ET

Buehler got roughed-up in his opening start against Arizona, going only three innings and giving up five runs. The Dodgers +36 run differential leads all of baseball. The Cardinals are trying to keep pace with the Brewers, who are off to a hot 8-2 start.

Friday, April 12

Saturday, April 13

Zach Davies (MIL) v. Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD), 9:10 ET

An NLCS rematch, the Dodgers play host to the Brewers this week in Los Angeles. Both teams are off to great starts, both sitting atop their divisions with 8-2 records. Last season Ryu suffered injuries that derailed any consistency as he only tossed 82 innings. So far, though two starts this season, he is looking more like his old self, and has a 13:0 K:BB rate.

Sunday, April 14

Jacob deGrom (NYM) v. Max Fried (ATL), 7:08 ET

At this point, every deGrom start is becoming must-watch tv, having him in the primetime spotlight Sunday Night ESPN game is a treat for everyone (with cable). In a crowded NL East, the winner will likely be decided on which team end up with the best divisional record.

*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