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Marty’s musings: down to the final eight

Heading into the LDS, we find ourselves with four intriguing intradivisonal series.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Sarah Stier/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.

MLB’s foray into the 16-team playoff format made for some long days of baseball last week. Today we give a brief numbers-based postmortem for those teams that are no longer in it, and take a look at the LDS games that start today.

News & Notes

4 - Divisional series this week that by chance, and playoff seeding, happen to be four divisional showcases. More on the matchups below.

4 - Teams from the National League Central who made the playoffs, and four teams who lost in the wild card round. Well, the Pirates at least have that going for them.

18 - Consecutive playoff games lost by the Minnesota Twins. The Twins were swept out of the playoffs once again, this time at the hands of the seventh-seed, under-.500 Houston Astros. Minnesota has not won a playoff series since they won the 1991 World Series, and since then have lost nine playoff series, accumulating a putrid 3-18 record. The Twins hae not won a playoff game since Johan Santana’s game one gem in the 2004 ALDS; they lost that series losing three straight to the Yankees (of course).

2 - Hits in 22 at bats for the Blue Jays’ young trio of Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The Rays’ pitching completely shut down the Jays in both games of the wild card ‘series’ holding Toronto to only three runs in two games.

7 - Runs given up by Toronto starter Hyun-Jin Ryu, in some part to shoddy defense. Toronto’s fielding had been their Achilles’ heel most of the year, and their defensive stumbles forced game two to be out of hand before they really had a chance to get anything going.

0 - Runs scored by the Cincinnati Reds in their series loss to the Braves. Despite phenomenal starting pitching, where Trevor Bauer went 7 ⅔ shutout innings, and allowed only two hits. He K’d 12 and walked zero, but the offense never got Cincy on the board. In game two, Reds’ starter Luis Castillo gave up only one run in 5 ⅓ innings, the Reds, but again, the Reds couldn’t plate any runs.

9 - Strikeouts and zero runs for Braves game-two starter Ian Anderson. He was magnificent in his playoff debut, allowing only four baserunners in six innings.

22 - Runs scored by the potent Yankees offense. The Yankees get home runs and strong offense from nearly everyone one-through-nine, including a grand slam by Gio Urshela in the second game of their ‘sweep’ of Cleveland.

1 - Oakland pitcher who threw more than 3 ⅔ innings in the three-game series against the White Sox. Despite using 10 total pitchers, only Chris Bassitt pitched four or more innings, with seven. With zero upcoming off days, the A’s pitching will likely be their Achilles Heel.

9 - Hits in 14 plate appearances by White Sox Tim Anderson, but he could not do enough to help the White Sox advance to the ALDS.

0 - Days above .500 for the Milwaukee Brewers who were the major underdogs in the wild card round this season. The Dodgers swept Milwaukee right out of the playoffs in two games.

9 - Nine pitchers used in each of the Padres two wins against the Cardinals. It’s an unconventional way to do things, but it got them to advance to the NLCS for a matchup with LA.

88 - Game score for Dodgers’ starter and snakebitten playoff starter Clayton Kershaw. We know the narrative about Kersh in the postseason, but he went eight innings of three-hit shutout ball, walking one and striking out 13.

2 - Innings that the Cubs were ever leading the Marlins in their two losses to Miami in the wild card round. Miami was projected to be one of the worst teams in the NL, yet they are in the LDS. Strange times!

LDS Matchups

Yankees v. Rays

Gerrit Cole is slated for game one, and he earned his pinstripes in his first playoff start against Cleveland. The Yankees relied on a potent offense to take down the Indians, they’ll meet their match with the Rays, who bested them all season.

Astros v. Athletics

Pretty much everyone in the baseball world is rooting for the A’s in this game, though despite them winning the division, they hardly can be viewed as favorites. Houston never got anything going this season, and in their 60-game regular season, finished below .500. Don’t be fooled, this team is nearly as good as they were last year, though Oakland can take advantage of Justin Verlander being injured.

Padres v. Dodgers

The perennially strong Dodgers take on the up-and-coming Padres in a series that will solidify LA as the premier NL West team, or serve a a coming out party for San Diego’s young stars.

Marlins v. Braves

Perhaps the least sexy matchup of the week is the most intriguing. With the Marlins KO’ing the Cubs in two games, they are only three wins away from the LCS. Miami was one of the hardest hit teams COVID-wise, but can still show just how flukish three and five game series can be in the postseason.

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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