While the Los Angeles Dodgers have boasted a pair of aces in Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw since the 2013 season, conventional wisdom largely held Kershaw was 1A to Greinke’s 1B. The designation wasn’t a knock on Greinke, but more a reflection of Kershaw’s sustained dominance.
However, it’s been a different story for the better part of the 2015 season. The three-time National League Cy Young award winner and reigning NL MVP has often been overshadowed by his right-handed teammate. Greinke collected his 17th win of the season on Sunday and with eight shutout innings lowered his already MLB-best ERA to a minuscule 1.61.
The scoreless outing was Greinke’s 11th of the season and second in his last four starts; it was a 12th start without allowing an earned run. While getting through a start without allowing a run has become the norm for Greinke this season, it’s not something he necessarily believed to be within reach, according to Barry Bloom of MLB.com:
The last couple of years I was pitching pretty good, but it seemed like I could never finish one of my outings without giving up a run,” Greinke said. “It seemed like every time and I’d give up one. And I’d be watching Kersh [Clayton Kershaw], and he’d give up none. I thought that was the way it always was going to be.”
As the leaders of the pitching staff, both Greinke and Kershaw have dismissed the notion of there being any animosity or competition to one-up each other. Greinke recently took it a step further, deferring to Kershaw as the better of the two.
Greinke took the mound in the three-game series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks coming off an unusual outing — for his standards. Going on an extra day of rest, he allowed three runs on seven hits over six innings.
However, Sunday’s game fell in line with what’s come to be expected from Greinke. He had laser-like precision, carrying a no-hitter into the fifth inning and perhaps more impressively, striking out Paul Goldschmidt, notorious Dodger-killer, three times.
While the Dodgers have reaped the benefits of having an overpowering left-right combination at the top of their rotation over the last two seasons, 2015 is the most dominant Greinke and Kershaw have been simultaneously.