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Marty’s musings: Yelich, Buxton, and a close NL Central

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Christian Yelich is done for the year, but the Brewers are in the thick of a wild card race. 

Milwaukee Brewers v Miami Marlins Photo by Mark Brown/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 discuss the impact of losing Yelich and Buxton, discuss the homer-happy season that is 2019, and take a look at some of the big matchups as we enter the homestretch of the 2019 regular season.

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

News and Notes

7.7 - fWAR for Christian Yelich, who fouled a ball off his knee and will miss the remainder of the 2019 season. Yelich is a leading NL MVP candidate, along with the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger. He may still win the award, but as the Brewers chase the Cubs for the second wild card, they’ll have to do it without their star. The Brew Crew tral the Cubs by one game for the second wild card slot.

2 - Games out of three the Twins took from the Indians over the weekend. It was a much-needed series win for the Twins, who earlier this week lost outfield star Byron Buxton for the year due to shoulder surgery. The Twins are in great shape to win the Central, with a magic number of nine.

12 - Earned runs allowed by John Lester in his last two starts (10 ⅓ innings). Lester has been shaky and inconsistent all season, but is an integral piece if the Cubs are going to hold onto the second wild card slot.

255 - The Houston Astros current run differential. The Astros had a crazy week-and-a-half, putting up double-digits in four of their last seven games, including a 21-run and 15-run win against the Mariners and Athletics. They also some gave up a 20-spot to Oakland as well...

6 - Home runs for the A’s on Tuesday, they won their game. Six home runs for the Yankees on Tuesday. They lost their game. 2019 dingers give, and 2019 dingers take away!

9/10 - Date the Dodgers clinched the NL West. With a commanding 18 ½ game lead on the second-place Diamondbacks, the Dodgers once again sealed the NL West and cruised to the playoffs.

6,105 - The previous MLB record for home runs in a season, which became second-place Wednesday night. With two weeks left in the season, the league is on pace for ~6,800 home runs, with half the league setting team records for dingers.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, September 16

Stephen Strasburg (WAS) v. Daniel Hudson (STL), 7:45 ET

The Nationals are in a position to host the NL wild card game, the Cardinals are holding onto the NL Central lead by a slim two games over Chicago (who has the second wild card slot heading into the week). Strasburg has a streak of five consecutive quality starts, positioning the Nats well going into the stretch.

Tuesday, September 17

Lance Lynn (TEX) v. Justin Verlander (HOU), 8:10 ET

It is likely this matchup represents two AL Cy Young vote-getters, though JV is likely to win the hardware. The Rangers have little to play for at this point, but the Astros and Yankees are neck-in-neck for AL home field advantage.

Wednesday, September 18

Spencer Turnbill (DET) v. Aaron Civale (CLE), 7:10 ET

Cleveland is in a three-team race for the AL wildcard, and plays the lowly Tigers this week. Civale has been excellent all season, allowing only ten earned runs in over 46 innings pitched. A series sweep would do them wonders after coming off a series loss to division-leading Minnesota.

Friday, September 20

Michael Wacha (STL) v. Jose Quintana (CHC), 2:20 ET

The Cubs are nipping at the heels of the Cardinals in the NL Central race, and have an opportunity at home to cut the lead, or potentially vault into first place. Both teams are in control of their postseason destiny with two weeks to go, though the Brewers are only a game behind Chicago. The NL Central race should be fun over the next 14 days.

Saturday, September 21

TBD (TOR) v. James Paxton (NYY), 1:05 ET

Despite the Yankees’ success amidst a ton of injuries and some very suspect starting pitching, they are currently the team with the best record in the American League. Looking to a five-game ALDS series, it’s still unclear who would start and take on most of the innings. Paxton has another opportunity to show he’s up for a playoff challenge by showing he can dominate a bad Blue Jays lineup next weekend.

Sunday, September 22

Nathan Eovaldi (BOS) v. Ryan Yarbrough (TB), 1:10 ET

Ryan Yarbrough is yet another Tampa Bay pitching success story, and although the Red Sox don’t have much to play for this month, they can play spoiler to a Rays team that is trying to position themselves ahead of the Indians and A’s in a three-way AL wild card race.

*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