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Having Kershaw, Greinke no guarantee of postseason success

Having Kershaw, Greinke no guarantee of postseason success
Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke share a moment before a game this season. (Jae C. Hong / AP)

The Dodgers have two dominant starting pitchers, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, heading into the playoffs, which has many Dodgers fans' hearts fluttering, since that tells them that they should win the World Series.

But does it really? A check of other teams with at least two dominant starters since expanded playoffs began in 1969 says otherwise. Using the criteria of at least two starting pitchers who, like Kershaw and Greinke, have a WHIP of 1.16 or lower and an ERA+ of 125 (meaning they were 25% better than the average pitcher that year), 39 other teams have two pitchers like that. One of those are the 2014 Washington Nationals, with Tanner Roark and Jordan Zimmermann. Of the other 38, only 21 made the playoffs. Only four of those teams won the World Series, with nine teams losing in the first round of the playoffs. A look at how those 21 teams fared:

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1997 Atlanta Braves

Pitchers: Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Denny Neagle and John Smoltz

Result: After sweeping Houston in the division series, the Braves lost to Florida, 4-2, in the NLCS, with Maddux losing two games.

2011 Philadelphia Phillies

Pitchers: Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee

Result: Lost to St. Louis in the division series, 3-2, with Halladay losing the decisive Game 5.

1985 Los Angeles Dodgers

Pitchers: Orel Hershiser, Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Welch

Result: Lost to St. Louis in the NLCS, 4-2, though you really can blame Tom Niedenfuer for that one.

1981 Houston Astros

Pitchers: Bob Knepper, Nolan Ryan, Don Sutton

Result: Lost to Dodgers in the division series, 3-2, with Ryan losing the decisive Game 5.

1981 Dodgers

Pitchers: Burt Hooton, Jerry Reuss, Fernando Valenzuela

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Result: Won World Series. Hooton went 4-1 in the postseason and was MVP of the NLCS. Valenzuela went 3-1 and Reuss went 2-2.

2013 Detroit Tigers

Pitchers: Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer

Result: Lost to Boston in the ALCS, 4-2, with Sanchez losing two games and Scherzer one.

2013 Dodgers

Pitchers: Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw

Result: Seem familiar? Lost to St. Louis in NLCS, 4-2, with Kershaw going 0-2.

2011 Tampa Bay Rays

Pitchers: Jeremy Hellickson, James Shields

Result: lost to Texas in ALDS, 3-1, with Shields and Hellickson each losing a game.

2005 Houston Astros

Pitchers: Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte

Result: Lost in World Series to Chicago White Sox, 4-0, with Clemens and Pettitte pitching poorly and getting no decision in their games.

2002 Arizona Diamondbacks

Pitchers: Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling

Result: Lost to St. Louis in division series, 3-0, with Johnson getting hammered in 12-2 Game 1 loss.

2001 Arizona Diamondbacks

Pitchers: Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling

Result: Won World Series, with Johnson winning three World Series games, Schilling one and the two being named co-MVP.

1999 Atlanta Braves

Pitchers: Kevin Millwood, John Smoltz

Result: Lost to New York Yankees in World Series, 4-0, with Millwood and Smoltz each losing a game.

1998 Atlanta Braves

Pitchers: Greg Maddux, John Smoltz

Result: Lost to San Diego in NLCS, 4-2, with Maddux getting a loss and a save and Smoltz having no decision in his two starts.

1996 Atlanta Braves

Pitchers: Greg Maddux, John Smoltz

Result: Lost to New York Yankees in World Series, 4-2, with Smoltz and Maddux losing Games 5 and 6.

1993 Atlanta Braves

Pitchers: Steve Avery, Greg Maddux

Result: Lost to Philadelphia in NLCS, 4-2, with Avery getting no decision in his two games and Maddux getting a win before losing Game 6. Note: The one year the Braves won the World Series in the 1990s was the one year they did not have at least two pitchers dominate the league during the season: 1995.

1986 New York Mets

Pitchers: Dwight Gooden, Bob Ojeda

Result: Won World Series. Mets won despite Gooden going 0-3 in the postseason. Ojeda went 2-0, including a win in the World Series.

1985 Toronto Blue Jays

Pitchers: Jimmy Key, Dave Stieb

Result: Lost to Kansas City in ALCS, 4-3, with Key going 0-1 and Stieb losing Game 7.

1983 Dodgers

Pitchers: Alejandro Pena, Bob Welch

Result: Lost to Philadelphia in NLCS, 3-1, with Welch losing Game 3

1981 New York Yankees

Pitchers: Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti

Result: Lost to Dodgers in World Series, 4-2, with Guidry going 1-1 and Righetti getting knocked out in the third inning of his only start.

1969 Baltimore Orioles

Pitchers: Mike Cuellar, Jim Palmer

Result: Lost World Series to New York Mets, 4-1, with Cuellar getting the only win and Palmer losing Game 3. Of course, they were facing the....

1969 New York Mets

Pitchers: Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver

Result: Won World Series, with Koosman going 2-0 and Seaver 1-1.

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