Dodgers Dugout: Zack Greinke is having a season for the ages

Dodgers Dugout: Zack Greinke is having a season for the ages
Zack Greinke pitches against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. (Danny Moloshok / AP)

Hi, welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, wondering if it is possible for MLB to arrange the off days so only Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw pitch.

The Great Greinke

With all the focus on the bullpen the last few weeks, one thing isn’t getting the recognition it deserves: Zack Greinke is having one of the best seasons in baseball history.

Greinke pitched six shutout innings against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday, improving his record to 12-2 and lowering his ERA to 1.65. That gives Greinke the seventh-best ERA in the majors since 1947 among pitchers who qualified for the league ERA title. A look:

  1. Bob Gibson, 1968 St. Louis Cardinals, 1.12
  2. Dwight Gooden, 1985 New York Mets, 1.53
  3. Greg Maddux, 1994 Atlanta Braves, 1.56
  4. Luis Tiant, 1968 Cleveland Indians, 1.60
  5. Greg Maddux, 1995 Atlanta Braves, 1.63
  6. Dean Chance, 1964 Angels, 1.65
  7. Zack Greinke, 2015 Dodgers, 1.65
  8. Nolan Ryan, 1981 Houston Astros, 1.69
  9. Sandy Koufax, 1966 Dodgers, 1.73
  10. Sandy Koufax, 1964 Dodgers, 1.74

That’s impressive. But you may be saying to yourself, “Yeah, but some of those guys competed when the mound was higher, so they had an advantage.” And you’d be right. So let’s look at ERA+, a tool that allows us to compare pitchers from different time frames. Adjusting for league factors and home-park advantages, Greinke is still in the top 10:

  1. Pedro Martinez, 2000 Boston Red Sox, 291 (100 is average. 291 basically means Martinez was 191% better than an average pitcher in 2000)
  2. Greg Maddux, 1994 Atlanta Braves, 271
  3. Greg Maddux, 1995 Atlanta Braves, 260
  4. Bob Gibson, 1968 St. Louis Cardinals, 258
  5. Pedro Martinez, 1999 Boston Red Sox, 243
  6. Dwight Gooden, 1985 New York Mets, 229
  7. Roger Clemens, 2005 Houston Astros, 226
  8. Zack Greinke, 2015 Dodgers, 222
  9. Roger Clemens, 1997 Toronto Blue Jays, 222
  10. Pedro Martinez, 1997 Montreal Expos, 219

So the next time Greinke pitches, take some time to appreciate it (probably over the radio, since most of us can’t see the Dodgers on TV).

Greinke’s contract

Greinke hasn’t said one way or the other, but you have to figure he will opt out of his contract at the end of the season and see how much he can get on the open market. The Dodgers don’t have to worry about money, so they can wait and see what the best offer is and just top it. “Oh, the Angels offered you seven years, $210 million? Here’s seven years, $230 million.” They do have to worry about whether Greinke wants to continue pitching here. Hopefully they are doing everything they can to make Greinke a happy camper, so that if it comes down to money, then the decision comes down only to whether to pay for him or not. It would be a real shame to lose Greinke, especially with the rest of the staff (other than Clayton Kershaw) such a question mark.

Let’s not forget Kershaw

Kershaw pitched eight scoreless innings in Wednesday’s win. Since the All-Star break, he is 4-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 45 strikeouts in 39 innings. He has given up only 20 hits and three walks in that time.

Where’s Vin?

Vin Scully wasn’t calling the game on the radio Tuesday or Wednesday and could be heard only by the lucky few who get the Dodgers on TV. The reason? He is battling a cold and wants to save his voice. He doesn’t have to talk as much on TV as he does on radio.

Mattingly not concerned

The Dodgers had lost four in a row before Tuesday’s 5-0 win over Washington, but Don Mattingly wasn’t worried. "I'm not concerned from the standpoint of a couple of days that go bad. I'm not going to panic during a small section of this. We're going to ride it out."

I believe it was the captain of the Titanic who said, “I’m not concerned with this small section of ocean where we hit that iceberg. We’re going to ride it out.”

Andre gets it

Andre Ethier has the proper response when asked about this season: "Anything short of winning a World Series is a disappointment. … Winning the division, making the playoffs is a small step to where we want to go. To be the best, we still have a long way. We were good last year. We want to be great [this year]."

Note to Dodgers players, manager and coaches: That is the proper response whenever asked what the season’s goal is. You all may feel that way, but it seldom comes across that way.

Friedman doesn’t

Andrew Friedman, the team president, said this before Tuesday’s game: “I've never seen this amount of passion … so many people caring about what happens on a nightly basis."

Yes Mr. Friedman, you’re not in Tampa anymore. You’re surprised fans actually care about the team?

Kendrick is out

Second baseman Howie Kendrick is out until mid-September because of a strained hamstring, which hurts the Dodgers’ defense up the middle. The Dodgers brought up Jose Peraza to replace him but could be getting Justin Turner back this weekend, so they will have plenty of options at second base among Peraza, Turner and Alberto Callaspo. I would put Turner at third and Peraza at second, but it is possible the team will send Peraza down when Turner comes back.

And finally

You know all those emails you send me complaining about the team, and how we have covered much ground in these newsletters worrying that the Dodgers just don’t quite get it? Bill Plaschke writes about it brilliantly in his latest column. Go here to read it.

Have a comment or something you'd like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me and follow me on Twitter: @latimeshouston