How Kershaw & Greinke Are the New Johnson & Schilling

Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke have both yet to be ‘on’ in the playoffs. It could spell disaster for the rest of the field though if they are.
How Kershaw & Greinke Are the New Johnson & Schilling
Los Angeles Dodgers ace starting pitchers Clayton Kershaw (L) and Zack Greinke hold the key to the team's postseason success. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Dave Martin

The formula seems so simple: Assemble a pair of aces on your staff and then ride them through the best-of-five and best-of-seven postseason series on shorter rest where you can take advantage of the days off, allowing them to start 3 to 5 times per series. How could you lose with that strategy?

In theory, it seems like a foolproof plan—if you’ve already acquired two aces (which is the hard part). Really, only the Dodgers can truly say they have two elite starting pitchers this season.

But as the Dodgers—with aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke—have proven the last two offseasons, the plan doesn’t always go the way you drew it up.

The team hasn’t advanced past the NLCS since signing Greinke some three years ago. But it’s not his fault.

Kershaw, who has three Cy Young awards to his name already, has struggled on baseball’s biggest stage. Heading into the 2015 postseason, he was sporting a sub-par 1–5 career playoff record with an unsightly 5.12 ERA. Compare that to his regular season 2.43 ERA and 114–56 record and clearly something is awry.

Well, until this postseason anyway.

While Greinke is a slight favorite to bring home his second Cy Young award this offseason and has been dominant the last two postseasons (1.93 ERA over four starts), Kershaw finally has looked like his normally dominant self in two starts against the Mets.

He was especially dominant in Game 4, allowing just three hits and a run in seven innings.

Could his postseason jitters finally be a thing of the past? It would certainly give Los Angeles an edge that few teams can match.

A 1–2 combination like this—should they both be on—hasn’t been seen since 2001 World Series co-MVPs Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling led the Arizona Diamondbacks to their first and only title.

Schilling (11–2 career postseason record, 2.23 ERA) was always a big-game pitcher, while the five-time Cy Young winner Johnson (7–9 career postseason record, 3.50 ERA) had some mixed results come October. But they were both on in the 2001 playoffs, combining for a 9–1 record with a minuscule 1.30 ERA in 89 2/3 innings.

The duo was even dominant enough to withstand a pair of blown saves in the World Series by closer Byung-Hyun Kim and prevail over the Yankees in seven games.

The Dodgers are two rounds away from the Fall Classic, and at this rate they won’t be held back by any shortcomings of closer Kenley Jansen.

Dave Martin is a New-York based writer as well as editor. He is the sports editor for the Epoch Times and is a consultant to private writers.
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