Dodgers’ Zack Greinke is putting together a season to remember

Zack Greinke pitches against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 1.

Zack Greinke pitches against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 1.

(Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

And now, a little Zack Greinke appreciation. One in a continuing series.

It’s officially September now, and if still too early to declare him the National League Cy Young Award winner, it’s not too soon to recognize he is having a particularly special season.

He is putting together a career year and, because he can opt out of his contract at the end of the season, even his timing is exceptional.


Outdueling Madison Bumgarner Tuesday night in the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory, Greinke lowered his ERA to 1.59. No one else is even under 2.00. He lowered his WHIP to 0.85, also the best mark in baseball.

“He’s having a special year, no doubt about that -- one you don’t see too often,” Bumgarner told reporters.

Greinke is 15-3, even after going through a bizarre nine-game stretch earlier this season where he put up a 1.79 ERA and did not win a game.

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His hallmark has been tremendous consistency. He knows what he wants to do and has the command to do it. Greinke has pitched at least six innings in every start and allowed one or fewer runs in 19 of his 27 starts. That’s flat-out remarkable.

“There haven’t been many games where I wasn’t throwing the ball where I want,” Greinke said. “Today I was throwing the ball where I wanted a lot. It’s been pretty consistent.”

As well as he’s thrown all season, Greinke seems to have picked it up since summer arrived. In his last 13 starts, he is 10-1 with a 1.27 ERA.

“The expectations for him are sky-high,” said catcher A.J. Ellis. “He’s set a standard for himself -- this season especially -- for what we expect from each time out, and he meets it. That says a lot about his ability to execute and stay in the moment, in the process. Very similar to Kersh [Clayton Kershaw]. That’s what makes them two of the best in business.”

Kershaw is the reigning National League Cy Young winner and MVP. He’s also been pitching exceptionally well of late (11-6, 2.24 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, league-best 236 strikeouts) and could add to the Jake Arrieta/Jacob deGrom/Max Scherzer competition for this season’s NL Cy Young.

Greinke won the American League Cy Young in 2009 with the Royals, in what until this year was his best season (16-8, 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP). Now he’s crushing all those numbers.

His current 1.59 ERA would be the fourth-best in baseball since 1920 (Bob Gibson 1.12 in ’68, Dwight Gooden 1.53 in ’85, Greg Maddux 1.56 in ’94). That is some extremely special company, for a guy having a very special season.