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Marty’s musings: PEDs, homers, and playoff pushes

Division winners are becoming clearer, and the Red Sox announce a regime change. 

Minnesota Twins v Seattle Mariners Photo by Abbie Parr/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 firing of Red Sox President, Dave Dombrowski, look at the Dodgers longball record, and address a couple major injuries heading into the home stretch.

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

News and Notes

4 - Years that Dave Dombrowski served as President and effectively, General Manager, of the Boston Red Sox. After losing the middle two of a four-game set against the Yankees (with the fourth game tonight) Red Sox brass sent Dombrowski packing. Boston hired Dombrowski in August of 2015, en route to their second last place finish in two years.

In the following three years, Boston finished in first place, losing twice in the ALDS, and of course, winning last year’s World Series with a juggernaut 108-win team. He leaves the Red Sox after getting them one title, and as per his usual M.O., with a fairly bare farm system.

1000 - Career hits for Red Sox shortstop Xander Boegarts. Despite the drama and ineffectiveness of the entire roster, Boegarts hit the 1,000 mark before the age of 27. Through 138 games, he has a 143 wRC+, second-best among all MLB shortstops, behind only Alex Bregman.

7 - Runs the Washington Nationals scored in the bottom of the ninth inning in a Tuesday night miracle against the middling Mets. New York had a 99.7 percent win probability after Pete Alonso’s home run in the top of the ninth, but the Mets being the Mets, managed to blow a 10-4 ninth inning lead.

60 - Game suspension for Twins starting pitcher Michael Pineda. Pineda is known for his pine tar incident in New York back in 2014, and this PED suspension further complicates his legacy and reputation. MLB originally suspended Pineda for 80 games, but he gave ‘compelling evidence’ that the banned diuretic for which he tested positive was not being used as a PED masking agent. This is bad news for Minnesota, as Pineda has been one of their most solid pitchers in the second half of the season.

255 - Home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who set the National League single-season team home run record over the weekend. Unsurprisingly, they are in third-place overall, as the Yankees and Twins have both hit more homers this season than Dodgers. So it goes in the ‘Juiced Ball Era’ of 2019.

2 - Major injuries to playoff pushing teams. The first is the Cubs Javy Baez, who fractured his thumb, and very well may be done for the season. The second is new Astros starter Aaron Sanchez, who will definitely be sidelined for the rest of the year since he requires shoulder surgery. It’s bad news for the Cubs, who are likely to be in the NL wild card game, and the Astros, who are cruising to an AL West pennant.

Matchups to Watch

Monday, September 9

Mike Foltynewicz (ATL) v. Aaaron Nola (PHI), 7:05 ET

The Braves have been on an absolute tear recently, and since August 1st, are 25-10. The Phillies are within striking distance of taking the second wild card, but this week’s schedule against Atlanta, then Boston, then Atlanta again, will be a test.

Wednesday, September 11

Robbie Ray (ARI) v. Steven Matz (NYM), 7:10 ET

The Mets are four games out of a playoff spot, and likely are playing spoiler at this point. The Diamondbacks are only 1 ½ games behind the Cubs for the second spot, and can sneak into the playoffs with a little luck. Both Ray and Matz have struggled recently, but this series will be interesting in light of a tight NL wild card race.

Thursday, September 12

Homer Bailey (OAK). v. Justin Verlander (HOU), 8:10 ET

Verlander is having a career-year, and with a playoff 1-2 punch of him and Gerrit Cole, are the clear AL favorites going into the postseason. The Athletics are chasing the Rays for homefield in the AL wild card game, with the Indians right on their heels. Let’s see what JV can do against the Oakland offense he may be facing in the ALDS.

Friday, September 13

Clayton Kershaw (LAD) v. Noah Syndergaard (NYM), 7:10 ET

Kershaw is sharpening-up for a playoff run while the Mets continue to push for a wild card berth. Syndergaard has been wildly inconsistent the last few weeks, shutting down Cleveland, then getting crushed by the Cubs, then shutting down the Nationals, and getting smacked-around by the Phillies. If both pitchers are on however, this is a premier matchup.

Sunday, September 15

Jose Berrios (MIN) v. Shane Bieber (CLE), 1:10 ET

Cleveland took two-of-three against Minnesota in Minnesota last week, but the division lead for the Twins is still 5 ½ games. Anything other than a sweep for Cleveland, and the Twins look like they’ll be on cruise control going to the ALDS.

*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