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 review Pete Alonso’s record-setting year-to-date, marvel in Rafael Devers’ breakout season and fantastic week, and preview some atypical inter-league matchups.
All this news and more in this week’s Musings.
News and Notes
1,626 - Inning it took Red Sox starting pitcher Chris Sale to reach the 2,000 strikeout mark. It’s the fastest to 2,000 in MLB history, as he bested Pedro Martinez’ previous record of 1,771 ⅓ innings by quite a bit.
Sale is currently on the injured list with elbow inflammation, a concerning sign that may derail the rest of his season. The 2018 Red Sox magic is officially gone.
3,170 - Career hits for Albert Pujols, who now owns the record for the most hits by any foreign-born player. He passed Adrian Beltre’s 3,166 hit record last week against the Pirates.
10+ - Home runs against the Baltimore Orioles this season for both Gary Sanchez (10) and Gleybar Torres (13). The last set of MLB teammate to hit double-digit homers against the same opponent was when Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig did it against the Red Sox in 1927.
The Yankees are consistently destroying their division competition this year, but we’ve rarely seen such dominance as the smackdown they have put on Baltimore this season, where they went 17-2.
3 - Game sweep of the Chicago Cubs by the Philadelphia Phillies, who despite ups-and-downs this summer, remain competitive in the wild card race. The Phils are tied with the Mets and Brewers in the standings, two games behind the second wild card spot. The Cubs’ skid put them behind the Cardinals (barely) and two games ahead of the Brewers in the three-team NL Central race.
4 - Doubles for Rafael Devers last Tuesday night against the Indians. Devers has been on fire recently, and went 4-for-5 in Sunday’s thrashing of the Orioles as well. Boston was down 6-0, but scored 13 unanswered runs between the third and seventh inning to best Baltimore 13-7.
22 - Home runs in a five-game stretch for the Dodgers last week. LA’s offense was on display despite the fact they lost two-of-three to the Braves. Atlanta represents what is likely to be the Dodgers best competition in the National League playoffs.
40 - Home runs by Pete Alonso, who set the NL rookie record for home runs. He’s only one shy of the Mets single-season home run record of 41, which is held by Todd Hundley and Carlos Beltrán.The MLB rookie home run record is 52, set by Aaron Judge two seasons ago and Alonso has a shot at that one as well.
Matchups to Watch
Monday, August 19
Zach Davies (MIL) v. Dakota Hudson (STL), 7:45 ET
This week kicks off with a compelling series against the first-place Cardinals and the second-place Brewers. The NL Central has three teams all vying for the division, and all in the wild card hunt. In his last start, Hudson tossed six shutout innings against the Royals while Davies has faced the Cubs his last two times out, and has given up 11 earned runs in nine total innings.
Tuesday, August 20
Shane Bieber (CLE) v. Steven Matz (NYM), 7:10 ET
The Mets cooled off a bit and are 6-4 in their last ten games. The Indians caught up to the Twins for the AL Central lead, but then last week lost a series two games to one to the Red Sox and split a four game series with the Yankees to put them behind Minnesota again. Shane Bieber has been great this season, while Matz is coming off one of his best starts of the year, where he shutdown the Braves potent offense for only one run in six innings.
Wednesday, August 21
Drew Smyly (PHI) v. Rick Porcello (BOS), 7:10 ET
Two teams in desperate need of series wins, Boston play interleague host to the Phillies this week. Boston is 6 ½ games behind the second spot and looking less and less likely to make the postseason, while the Phillies are clumped with several teams two games out of the playoff picture heading into this week.
J.A. Happ (NYY) v. Mike Fiers (OAK), 10:07 ET
The Yankees have a commanding lead atop the American League East, and will cruise to the ALDS. The Athletics are chasing a wild card spot, which should they earn one and then advance, could very well be headed to the Bronx come October. Despite Mike Fiers decent year-to-date, he pitched poorly against the strong Houston offense last week. He’ll get no breaks as Oakland hosts New York this week.
Thursday, August 22
Max Scherzer?? (WAS) v. Steven Brault (PIT), 7:05 ET
Rumor has it that Scherzer is coming off the injured list to make his first start since July 25th, this upcoming Thursday. We’ll see if this comes to fruition, but it would be a much needed boost for Washington.
Friday, August 23
Mike Foltynewicz (ATL) v. Jacob deGrom (NYM), 7:10 ET
The Mets and Braves played a fun and competitive series last week in Atlanta, this upcoming weekend, the Braves visit Citifield. Folty has had a lousy season all around, and has given up 19 home runs in only 75 innings.
Saturday, August 24
Joe Ross (WAS) v. Jose Quintana (CHC), 2:20 ET
The Nationals and Cubs have a chance to jump over one another in the crowded wild card field. While the division is likely out of reach for the Nationals, the Cubs are very much still in the thick of it in the NL Central. This series will be fun to watch.
Sunday, August 25
Domingo German (NYY) v. Clayton Kershaw (LAD), 7:10 ET
The national game this Sunday night could be a World Series preview, as the Yanks go out to LA to take on the Dodgers. The classic rivalry series begins Friday with inconsistent James Paxton going up against leading NL Cy Young contender, Hyun-Jin Ryu. Sunday night’s contest pits Domingo German against perennial all-star Clayton Kershaw.
*All pitching matchups as of Sunday night’s pitching probables