Zack Greinke: Weekly Pitcher’s Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is on the Los Angeles Dodgers‘ second ace, Zack Greinke. Greinke is on a run that is on the verge of historical proportions. The National League All-Star Game starter is currently riding a 43.2 scoreless inning streak. While Greinke did give up a lead-off home run in the All-Star Game to MVP Mike Trout, that blemish does not count toward the regular season mark. Greinke’s last six starts have been dominant, and with as fluid of mechanics as anyone, the right-hander appears to be locked in now more than ever.

Over the weekend, Greinke extended the scoreless inning streak in a dual against Max Scherzer, who has also had his fair share of dominance this season as well. The two pitchers are likely in a head-to-head battle for this year’s NL Cy Young award. The current 43.2 scoreless innings is good for 12th on the all-time list. The record is 59 innings by a former Dodger in Orel Hershiser set back in 1988. This streak by Greinke is also the longest such mark in 26 years. Grienke now owns a 1.30 ERA and 0.82 whip for the season, as he is virtually unhittable at the moment.

Greinke’s stretch has been across his last six starts. In the process, he has posted a 42:4 strikeout to walk ratio. However, interestingly enough Greinke has yet to complete a game during this stretch, which may speak to the times of specialists and bullpens getting the last few outs of games. Compare that to Hershiser, who ended the 1988 season throwing nine straight complete games. Nine. The last six were the games that amassed the scoreless streak, and for good measure, in the final game Hershiser threw a ten-inning shutout. In today’s game, a feat like that will likely never be matched. While Hershiser struck out less and walked more during his streak, is it still more dominant then what Greinke is currently doing?

In that 1988 season, Hershiser did claim the Cy Young award. With a franchise that has seen remarkable pitching performances over history with the likes of Hershiser, Sandy Koufax, and Don Drysdale (who is second on the all-time scoreless streak) this is almost routine for the Dodgers. In a rotation that already includes MVP and CY Young winner Clayton Kershaw, Greinke is almost viewed as the Robin to Kershaw’s Batman. Yet, Greinke continues to do remarkable things out on the mound in his own style, and is on the verge of approaching history.

With Greinke 15.2 innings away from breaking the record, it is possible that it could be done with his next two starts. Those two starts are projected to be against the New York Mets and either the Oakland A’s or Los Angeles Angels. When he takes the ball, Greinke may have the odds in his favor as the Mets have been shutout already ten times this season to get even closer to history. How fitting would it then be if the start after that is in fact against the cross-town rival Angels and that man Mike Trout? History always has a way of coming full circle in this great game.

With two more deep, dominant outings, history may very well be in the grasp of yet another Dodger pitcher. Zack Greinke will be in the spotlight to see if history can indeed be made as he continues to throw up zeros on the scoreboard.

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