Thursday, August 22, 2013

Greinke's message: Don't forget about me!

If there's one thing that Zack Greinke would like everyone to know, it's that the Dodgers have two aces, and not just one.

Greinke tossed another brilliant game on Wednesday, going eight innings for six hits, one run, no walks, and seven strikeouts, as the Dodgers beat the Marlins, 4-1.  That lone run was a solo laser by Giancarlo Stanton, who pretty much hits everybody.  In only one inning did he allow more than one baserunner.

In other words, he continued his amazing run of effectiveness.  Over his last nine starts, he's 6-1 with a sparkling 1.41 ERA.  During that span, he's averaged a little over seven innings a start along with about 5 1/2 strikeouts a game.

Back in the beginning of July, I wrote about how Greinke needed to step up and start delivering results that were more aligned to the monster contract he inked in the offseason (six years, $147 million).  At that time, he just got smacked around by the Rockies, and while his record was 6-2, his ERA was 4.30.

There have been many factors contributing to the Dodgers' unbelievable run, and Greinke is right at the top of that list.  It was after that start in Colorado where he really turned his season around, and has most definitely showed everyone how good he is when he's at 100%.

What were some reasons Greinke started the season slowly?  Well, you have to consider injuries.  He had a bit of trouble in Spring Training with an elbow issue, and we all can't forget about Carlos Quentin charging the mound and breaking his collarbone.  He was supposed to miss up to two months, but ended up pitching a month later.

Perhaps he rushed back too soon, as all of June was a mixed bag one one good start, then one so-so start.  Then you have to consider the new surrounding he was in, as he has a history of anxiety issues that really affected him in his Kansas City days.  I remember reading a story about how he wanted to get dropped off in Dodger Stadium by helicopter to avoid traffic!  That's pretty crazy.

What I like most about Grienke's turnaround is that it hasn't just been at home.  Check out his last five road starts:

7/8 @ Diamondbacks: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K
7/20 @ Nationals: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
8/5 @ Cardinals: 6 1/3 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
8/16 @ Phillies: 7 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
8/21 @ Marlins: 8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K

So much for not being able to get it done on the road.

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt made mention of how Greinke and Clayton Kershaw are competitive with one another, as neither wants to get one-upped by the other.  It certainly shows, as both are at the tops of their games, and I can't imagine any team wanting to face these two at the start of a playoff series.  They'd be lucky to win one of those games.

At this point, Greinke has about seven starts left, so the focus is merely on staying healthy and being ready to go in October, assuming the Dodgers keep their lead in the NL West, which is currently a massive 8 1/2 games over the Diamondbacks.  Then it will be time to shine in October, and who knows how many starts he'll make there.

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