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Marty’s musings: trade deadline deals and wild card races

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Trade deadline deals, and a new leader in the NL Central. 

Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Mark Blinch/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 we take a look at the Mets’ acquisition of Marcus Stroman, the Red Sox handing-it to Yankees’ starters, and dingers dingers dingers!

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

News and Notes

2+ - Days until MLB’s trade deadline, which is 4:00 ET on Wednesday. The Mets and Blue Jays got the starting pitcher carousel going, with New York acquiring Marcus Stroman (and cash, naturally) for two young prospects / lottery tickets. The general consensus is the Mets did well on this trade, and that this positions them for a 2020 run. It will be interesting to see if the next shoe to drop is trading Noah Syndergaard. Syndergaard changed his twitter profile, as he expects to get dealt in the coming days.

25-10 - The San Francisco Giants’ record in one-run games so far this season. The Giants are only two games above .500, at 54-52, and sit 2 ½ games outside the second wildcard slot. Still though, with a strong bullpen, and postseason pitching extraordinaire, Madison Bumgarner, there’s a chance the Giants either hold-pat or become modest buyers going into the trade deadline.

5-10 - The Rangers record since the All Star break a couple weeks ago. They had positioned themselves to potentially become buyers, but with the current skid, perhaps may be looking to deal Mike Minor, and/or Lance Lynn, who have been pitching better than expected so far this season.

8 - Blown saves by the Cubs in July. The signing of Craig Kimbrel did not exactly help as planned, as he’s been less-than-steady since inking his deal with the North Siders. Over the weekend, the Cubs lost two-out-of-three to the Brewers, including a game in which they took a one-run lead in the top of the tenth inning, only to have Kimbrel give up two home runs in the bottom of the inning.

-1.67 - Win Probability Added for Minnesota pitchers in a 14-12 ten-inning loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night. This was perhaps the game of the year, as the final three innings featured 12 runs scored and five(!) lead changes. Over the course of ten innings, Minnesota and New York combined for 26 run son 35 hits and 14 walks. The Twins had a commanding lead in the AL Central, but the Indians have snuck their way back into the race, and only trail by two games.

3 - Teams all grouped together atop the NL Central. Prior to last Friday, the Cardinals had not been in first place since May 6th, but while the Cubs and Brewers spent most of the late spring and early summer jockeying for first place, St. Louis has steadily gained traction. Going into Monday night’s action, the Cubs and Cardinals are tied for first with a 56-49 record, with the Brewers a full-game behind thanks to losing the game additional games they’ve played (they are 56-51).

The news got worse for the Brewers, as starter Brandon Woodruff went on the IL with an oblique injury, something that likely will keep him on the shelf for at least six weeks.

8 - Extra-base hits in one inning for the Cardinals on Wednesday night’s smashing of the Pirates. Paul DeJong hit three homers in the game including a big one in a nine-run inning that set a bunch of records. The Cardinals were the last team to post eight extra base hits in one inning. That happened against the Cubs in 2012.

4 - Consecutive days last week where a player has hit three home runs in a single game. Robinson Cano did it on Tuesday, DeJong did it against the Pirates on Wednesday, Nelson Cruz did it on Thursday (his first career three-homer game), and Mookie Betts did it on Friday in another blowout of the Yankees.

12 - Earned runs given up by Masahiro Tanaka in 3 ⅓ innings of the first game of a four-game Yankee/Boston series. Rick Porcello went through six innings for the first time all season, and it was the first time Boston went a full turn through the rotation with all five starters going at least six innings. Boston took the first three games, but Chris Sale struggled with command, walking guys and giving up home runs in a 9-6 loss in the series finale.

133 ⅓ - Innings it took Astros flamethrower Gerrit Cole to get to 200 strikeouts on the season. It’s the fastest since 2001, when Randy Johnson set the record, doing it in 130 ⅔ innings.

10 - Total bases for Trea Turner on Tuesday night. Turner went four-for-five, and hit for the cycle in the Nationals’ 11-1 romping of the Rockies. The Nats are 31-16 since June 1st, but are coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of the Dodgers.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, July 29

Dallas Keuchel (ATL) v. Patrick Corbin (WAS), 7:05 ET

The Nationals will come into this important divisional series licking their wounds after taking a beating by the Dodgers over the weekend. They are 5 ½ games behind Atlanta for the NL East lead, but are well-positioned in the wild card race heading into the trade deadline.

Tuesday, July 30

Justin Verlander (HOU) v. Shane Bieber (CLE), 7:10 ET

Tuesday night’s Astros / Indians matchup pits two of the summer’s most effective pitchers against one another. In his last start, Bieber dominated the Blue Jays in a complete game one-hitter. He allowed only two total baserunners, and struck out ten in the complete game shutout.

Wednesday, July 31

Zack Grienke (ARI) v. Masahiro Tanaka (NYY), 1:05 ET

Tanaka is coming off the worst start of his career, and is looking to rebound against the underachieving Diamondbacks. While it is expected that Grineke will remain a DBack, it will be interesting to see if he makes this start, or is packing his bags to join a contender.

Friday, August 2

Chae Anderson (MIL) v. TBD (CHC), 2:20 ET

The Brewers and Cubs face-off again this upcoming weekend, while the Cardinals are out in Oakland. The crowded three-team NL Central will likely remain competitive, so these games are extremely important for both teams, particularly the Brewers, who are going in without their ace.

Saturday, August 3

Chris Sale (BOS) v. Domingo Germán (NYY), 1:05 ET

A rematch of Sunday night’s game, Chris Sale walked several batters who all came around to score, while Germán pitched effectively enough to earn the Yankees the W. Boston is making some progress in their playoff push, and considering Dave Dombrowski’s track-record, may have some additions to the team by the time this series kicks-off.

Sunday, August 4

Daniel Hudson (STL) v. Mike Fiers (OAK), 4:07 ET

Both the Cardinals and Athletics are in wild card spots today (with the Cards tied for first in the NL Central). The teams are both off Friday (a weird scheduling quirk) so Sunday’s game is the last of a two-game set.

*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