Zack Greinke Brought The Heat All Summer
Yasiel Puig gets all the credit, but Grienke's arm and grit is equally important to LA's resurgence.
By J.R. Gamble August 27, 2013, 05:08 PM EST
The Dodgers are 30-7 since the All-Star break. Mincemeat is a perfect word to describe what they’re making out of the remains of an obliterated NL West division.
The most important position player has undoubtedly been Yasiel Puig. The Dodgers’ transformation from outclassed, over-priced mistakes to being omnipotent world-beaters, started with the wild and zany Cuban’s arrival.
The pitching of Zack Greinke since his return from early-season injury has had a similar effect. Greinke’s been a show-stopper, exactly what the Dodgers hoped for when they laced him with a six-year, $147 million contract back in December—the largest ever for a righty-hurler at the time.
Let’s not give Greinke too much props for pitching to his paycheck, but we know that teams overspend for talent all the time. Not since CC Sabathia signed for absurd paper with the Yankees in 2008 and led them to a chip in 2009, has there been a free-agent arm that’s lived up to “Ace” billing so effectively.
Once Greinke (13-3) turned it up, giving the Dodgers the best 1-2 punch in the NL, the NL West became an easy spin down Sunset Strip. The G-man is spitting flames with an August for the ages and making a late-season run at his teammate, Clayton Kershaw’s Cy Young award. You know the writers usually remember what you do late. Over 162 games those May gems don’t figure as prominently.
Greinke is 5-0 with a 1.23 ERA in five August starts. Overall, he’s won 10 of his last 12 decisions.
It was May 15th when Greinke returned to the last-place Dodgers’ rotation and pitched 5 1/3 of “I’m back b*tch”- ball in his first start since April 11. Greinke returned to the hill three weeks sooner than expected from a broken left clavicle suffered after he shot a fair one with San Diego's brolic Carlos Quentin, who didn’t like getting pegged.
Greinke showed that same bulldog bop when he got beaned in the dome on June 11, by Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy, leading to another bench-clearing brawl. He’s definitely a Don Mattingly kind of player. Knowing you can give the ball to a fearless stud like that—and he might not even be your top-shotta—has the Dodgers feeling really chill about their playoff aspirations.