Dodger Pitchers Kershaw and Greinke: Greatest 1-2 Punch Ever?
Dodgers three-time Cy Young winner and reigning MVP Clayton Kershaw extended his scoreless innings streak on Saturday to 37 innings, after shutting out the crosstown-rival Angels—and the AL’s reigning MVP Mike Trout—for eight frames in a 3–1 win.
This latest hot streak is nothing new to Kershaw, though, who went 41 innings last year without giving up a run—it’s not even new to this year’s Dodgers franchise. Fellow ace Zack Greinke just had his own 45 2/3-innings streak snapped on July 26 against the Mets. (FYI, the record is 59 innings by another Dodger—Orel Hershiser.)
According to ESPN, the only other pair of teammates to have scoreless innings streaks of 35 innings or more in the same season were the 1908 Chicago Cubs, with the infamous Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown and Ed Reulbach. Incidentally, that marked the last time the lovable Cubs won the World Series.
In the modern era, though, has any team been able to trot out a more dominant pair of aces than what manager Don Mattingly and the Dodgers can throw out there?
Through Saturday’s action the former Cy Young winner Greinke, who currently sports a 10–2 record, has the best ERA in all of baseball at 1.41. Kershaw, who has led the NL in ERA four straight seasons, has seen his drop to 2.37—now fifth-best in the league. Should Greinke and Kershaw keep up their dominance, the duo could easily finished 1-2 in the Cy Young voting and terrorize opponents this fall in the playoffs.
Few teams in recent history can match that kind of talent.
In 2011, Phillies teammates Roy Halladay (19–6 record, 2.35 ERA) and Cliff Lee (17–8, 2.40) finished second and third in the Cy Young voting—behind Kershaw. Two years prior, Cardinals aces Chris Carpenter (17–4, 2.24) and Adam Wainright (19–8, 2.63) also finished 2-3 in the voting. In 2004, Astros aces Roger Clemens (18–4, 2.98) and Roy Oswalt (20–10, 3.49) finished first and third in the voting.
Not since the 2001 and 2002 seasons, when Arizona’s Randy Johnson (21–6, 2.49 and 24–5, 2.32) and Curt Schilling (22–6, 2.98 and 23–7, 3.23) finished 1-2 in the Cy Young voting in back-to-back seasons, have we seen so much pitching dominance at the top of a team’s rotation. And the pitching paid off. In 2001, the Diamondbacks won the World Series with Johnson and Schilling taking home co-MVP honors in the Fall Classic.
It’s a good omen for the Dodgers, who last lifted the Commissioner’s Trophy in 1988—the same year Hershiser broke Don Drysdale’s record scoreless innings streak.