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Marty’s musings: the Royals, Cookie, and sealed divisions

A look at some of the key stories as we dive headlong into the last few weeks of the season. 

Cleveland Indians v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/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 sale of the Kansas City Royals, look at Justin Verlander’s utter dominance of the Blue Jays (for a second time!), and amaze at the Yankees propensity to rarely get shut out.

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

News and Notes

1 - Inning pitched in relief for Indians’ starter Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco is recovering from leukemia, and is quickly becoming the best story in baseball. The Indians are slowly working him back up with the hopes that if they make the playoffs, he can have an impact. We’re all rooting for you Cookie.

100 - Game score for Justin Verlander, who on Sunday afternoon, no-hit the Blue Jays for the second time in his career. Verlander was dealing in what would be his third career no-no; he commanded a 14:1 strikeout to walk rate and became only the 15th pitcher to post a 100 game score. JV also became the first pitcher ever to throw two no hitters against the same opposing team in their own ballpark.

8 - Consecutive years with 200+ strikeouts for Nationals’ starter Max Scherzer. Scherzer hit the injured list this summer, but when he has been on the field, he has dominated hitters. With the Nationals in firm control of the first NL wild card, they’ll be calling on Max to get them to the NLDS in what is likely to be a wild card home game for Washington.

29 - Separate players that have hit the injured list for the Yankees, the most for any team in a single season. Gio Urshela hit the IL making him player number 29, then CC Sabbathia returned to the IL just a day later. CC may not be able to pitch again due to his knee problems. All this, and the Yankees are still cruising to the AL East pennant.

1 - Billion Dollars the Kansas City Royals sold for last week, when David Glass divested the team to local businessman, and part owner of the Indians, John Sherman. MLB and Sherman finalized the deal just days after the details were leaked. The Royals were quite the investment for Glass, who purchased the team for $96 million just 17 years ago.

6 - Losses in a row for the Mets last week, who took a beating from the Cubs in New York in a three-game sweep, but then took a series in Philadelphia, 2-1. Although New York is still in the race, it’s been their ineffectiveness against good teams that has put them on the outside-looking-in.

On Labor Day, Noah Syndergaard threw his best game of the year against the Nats, throwing seven shutout innings and striking out 10 to zero walks. It was a far cry from his three inning-nine earned run performance against the Cubs last week. The Mets are four games out of the second NL wild card.

18 - Earned runs given up in Hyun-Jin Ryu’s last three starts. He had previously given up 23 in 22 starts before the August blues hit. The Dodgers have a commanding lead in the NL West and are shoe-ins to repeat as division winnings, but concerns from Ryu and closer Kenley Jansen raise some concerns heading into the latter part of the season and the playoffs.

220 - Consecutive games the Yankees played in between shutouts. Texas got the better of New York, shutting the offense down and winning a Monday rain-delayed matinee 7-0. To put it into perspective, in between Yankees shut-outs, the Marlins were blanked 26 times.

In other news, the autopsy report came back for Tyler Skaggs, who the coroner found to have multiple opioid substances and alcohol in his system at the time of his death. The Skaggs family released a statement implicating the Angels organization in procuring at least some part of the deadly cocktail. More on this story as it develops...You can read most of the details from Maria Torres’ LA Times article.

Matchups to Watch

Tuesday, September 3

Jacob deGrom (NYM) v. Max Scherzer (WAS), 7:05 ET

The Nationals are poised for a wild card berth, while the Mets need every win they can get to jump over several teams in front of them for the second slot. As I pointed out last week, New York has not shown up to play against contending teams, so this week’s series against the Nationals and Phillies will make-or-break their stretch run towards the postseason.

Wednesday, September 4

Jose Berrios (MIN) v. Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS), 7:10 ET

The Twins offense keeps on chugging along, and they are still well-positioned to take the AL Central title. The Red Sox meanwhile are 5 ½ games out of a wild card slot, and need to string together an impressive winning streak if they’re going to catch the A’s, Indians, and Rays.

Thursday, September 5

Jose Quintana (CHC) v. Chase Anderson (MIL), 7:10 ET

While the Cubs and Brewers seemingly play one another every week, it’s the Cardinals who have taken control of the National League Central. Milwaukee has fallen four games behind the Cubs for the second NL Wild Card, so a series sweep would position them right back in the thick of it. Taking two-of-three is probably required to keep pace with not only Chicago, but also Arizona and Philadelphia, who are also ahead of them, though barely.

Friday, September 6

Patrick Corbin (WAS) v. Dallas Keuchel (ATL), 7:20 ET

Keuchel has been inconsistent on the year, but since getting the doors blown off him for eight runs in less than four innings against Miami, he has posted 25 innings and allowed only three earned runs. How he performs in his last few starts will help the Braves figure out what they have in Keuchel heading into the playoffs.

Saturday, August 7

Yusei Kikuchi (SEA) v. Justin Verlander (HOU), 7:10 ET

Verlander may very well be on his way to the second Cy Young of his career, and he’s looking to follow up an impressive performance against Toronto with another strong start at home against Seattle. JV’s starts are now must-watch TV as the Astros cruise to an AL West title, in preparation for another ALDS.

Sunday, September 8

Mike Clevinger (CLE) v. Randy Dobnak (MIN), 2: 10 ET

If the Indians are going to give the Twins a good run for the division, they’ll have to start next weekend, when they visit the Twins Cities this weekend. Other than six games against Minnesota, the Indians have a pretty cushy schedules, facing the White Sox, Angels, and Tigers in 12 of their remaining 24 games.

*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