The Dodgers demolished the Rockies on Tuesday night 8-0 behind another awesome night by Yasiel Puig, and a complete game shutout by Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw also ended Michael Cuddyer's hitting streak at 27 games, who flied out to end the game. It was their ninth win in the last 10, moving them to 2 1/2 games in back of first place in the NL West.
The big stars brought in by management to shine did just that. In addition to Puig and Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez hit a two-run homer, Hanley Ramirez upped his hitting streak to 13 games and scored a couple runs, and Andre Ethier had two hits and a stolen base. Matt Kemp was hitless, but did collect an RBI at least.
After the game I took a peak at the starting pitchers for Wednesday night and saw Zack Greinke's name. The first thing I said to myself was, "Now it's his turn."
Yes, with the Dodgers the hottest team in baseball, it's time for the "other" ace to lead the way.
So far I'd put Greinke's season at the decent to pretty good range. Nothing awful, but certainly nothing special either. He's just kind of been there. He currently stands at 5-2 with a 3.94 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, and 48 K's in 64 IP. Again, nothing bad, but nothing spectacular either.
Whether he likes it or not, his massive contract he inked this past offseason (six years, $147 million) gives him higher expectations. He wasn't signed to be pretty good. He was signed to take the ball the day after Kershaw and put up dominant numbers as well. So far, that hasn't been the case.
We should remember that Greinke was supposed to miss up to two months after that idiot Carlos Quentin charged the mound in April and broke his collarbone, but he ended up returning about a month early. I've always wondered if he was still feeling some effects of that, as his ERA in May was 6.75. Maybe he was but didn't want to sit again, feeling pressure to perform. Who knows.
What I do know is that he seems to have fallen into a pattern of one good start, one not-so-good start. Take a look at his last four trips to the mound:
6/11 vs. Arizona: 7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (no-decision)
6/16 at Pittsburgh: 5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (loss)
6/22 at San Diego: 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K (win)
6/27 vs. Philadelphia: 7 IP, 12 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (win)
Again, it's not like he's getting shelled, but he certainly hasn't been the consistent top-tier starter the Dodgers signed him to be. Even though he won his last start agains the Phillies, he was hardly sharp, and for once got a win because of his offense.
After tonight's start in Colorado, he's lined up for two more starts before the All-Star break: in Arizona and home against the Rockies. Obviously, that's three starts against division opponents, so the wins count for that much more.
If there's a reason for optimism that Greinke is about to put up better numbers, then it's his career splits between before and after the break. Since he debuted with the Royals in 2004, he has a 3.93 ERA before, and 3.60 after. Then you take into account the tremendous difference in ERA between home and away (3.39 vs. 4.20), and you start to like seeing him down the stretch on the mound in Dodger Stadium even more.
While the 12th start of the season shouldn't be the most important, it could be for Greinke as he looks to continue the Dodgers' hot run. If the Dodgers gave him all of this money with starts like this in mind, then it's time to step up and deliver the goods.