It was 100 years ago this Wednesday that Babe Ruth swatted his first Major League home run (he was with the Boston Red Sox at the time).
“The Great Bambino” would have been pleased to know that a century after the debut of his prolific home-run-hitting career, the number of homers in 2015 are currently on an upswing.
American League teams are averaging 1.95 HRs per game (compared with 1.78 for all of last season), and National League clubs are at 1.70 HRs per (versus 1.67 in 2014).
Keeping in mind that homers tend to be hit at a faster pace as the season progresses leaves fans to hope that one of baseball’s persistent criticisms – lack of offensive fire power – may be turning in the right direction.
No doubt, that would be a fact that would please the Babe if he were still around today. Now on to some specific thoughts about week five of the 2015 MLB season:
A scoring history
Over a three-game series on April 27-29, the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves scored a cumulative 54 runs. According to ESPN.com, that’s the most in a three-game set since August 2010.
As a result, it’s worth watching the Braves and the Nationals closely when the square off again this week for another three-game clash. Expect a high-scorer on Friday when the two teams play in Washington. The reason: Braves starter Eric Stults.
While Stults was one of the better starters in the aforementioned series, he’s coming off a terrible outing against the Cincinnati Reds wherein he gave up six runs and eleven hits in seven innings of work. He’ll face the National’s Gio Gonzalez.
In contrast, Gonzalez is coming off a stellar start against the Mets. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting he’s only one game removed from his own nightmare – a five-inning, ten-hit, six-run loss to the Miami Marlins.
Stick on the Harvey train
Like Clayton Kershaw last year, Matt Harvey is the man to consider week-in, week-out this season. He’s currently 5-0 and was sharp against the Nationals in his last outing, pitching seven innings of shutout baseball (he allowed just five hits). Look for him to keep it rolling and prevail on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.
While Harvey was just so-so against the Phillies last time he face them (he gave up three runs in six innings versus Philadelphia on April 14), he meets a Phillies club that’s currently reaching a nadir.
Simply stated, the Phillies are currently the MLB’s worst offensive club, owning the lowest runs-per-game total in the National League.
With the Mets above average in that category they should be able to scrape enough runs, even if the Phillies likely starter is Philadelphia ace Cole Hamels.
Miami Marlins’ starter Mat Latos has been one of this year’s big disappointments. Though he has a career 3.25 ERA, he owns a 6.86 ERA in five starts this season. Throw in the fact that he suffered a left hamstring strain in his last outing, and you’ve got to like the Washington Nationals’ chances against him at home on Tuesday.
Beyond Latos, another factor here is Washington’s starter Stephen Strasburg. He didn’t pitch well in April this year (4.60), but he’s entering a month where he has a long history of shining. His lifetime ERA in May is 2.70, which is his second-best rate (after September) throughout his career.
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