Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
When you pay a MLB pitcher $147 million dollars over six years, you hope that he is worth every dollar. Well if his first season is any indication of how successful he will be in blue, then Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke is going to have a great career. Often overshadowed by Cy Young Winner Clayton Kershaw this year, Greinke quietly posted a phenomenal season and at times, outpitched Kershaw.
When the Dodgers were acquired by a new ownership group in 2012, it meant that for the first time in a while, they would have lots of money to spend. After signing Hyun-Jin Ryu to a $36 million dollar contract on December 9th of 2012, the boys in blue made a big splash in free agency the next day when they signed Greinke to a $147 million dollar contract, the largest contract for a right-handed pitcher at that time. Greinke was coming off of a 15-5 season with the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Angels and his addition was a boost to a team that already had a strong pitching rotation and had the 3rd best team era in 2012. The Dodgers also hoped that the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner would give LA the best 1-2 pitching duo in baseball.
Greinke’s 2013 season got off to an eventful start I would say. In his first game in blue on April 5th, Greinke threw 6.1 scoreless innings and struck out six as the Dodgers defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-0. His next start would become a big story around baseball when he took the mound on April 11th at Petco Park as the Dodgers faced the San Diego Padres. In the bottom of the 6th, Greinke hit Padres OF Carlos Quentin and following the HBP, Quentin and Greinke had words for each other that sparked a bench-clearing brawl, all started by Quentin. The Dodgers would go on to win the game 3-2 but Greinke suffered a broken left collarbone during the brawl that forced him to miss a month. After the brawl, people around baseball wanted to know why the brawl ensued but the Dodgers were more concerned with the fact that their most expensive pitcher was now injured.
Greinke returned to the mound about a month later and threw 5.1 innings and allowed a run and picked up the victory in the Dodgers 3-1 win over the Washington Nationals. Greinke settled in the rest of the year and became the 2nd best pitcher on the staff and gave the Dodgers the best 1-2 pitching duo in baseball. Greinke’s best month was in August when he won all five of his starts and was awarded the NL Pitcher of the Month for the month of August. From June 22nd to September 2nd, Greinke went 11-1 in his 13 starts and matched Kershaw start for start as best pitcher on the Dodgers. Greinke finished the season with a 15-4 record and an era of 2.63 in 177.2 innings pitched. Greinke added another boost that shocked Dodger fans in that he was a great hitter. Greinke had a .328 average in the 2013 season and was the NL Silver Slugger Award winner for best hitting pitcher in the NL.
It brings a lot of confidence to a team when you know that you have two of the best pitchers in the league pitching every five games back to back. Zack Greinke had a great year for someone who broke his left collarbone at the beginning of the year. At first when they signed him, I was a little surprised that they paid him so much money but after his first year, it looks as if it was the perfect amount. When you look at reasons why teams win World Series, most of the time the strength of the team is their rotation. The duo of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale in the mid 1950s to late 60s helped the Dodgers win three World Series. If the Dodgers can sign Kershaw to a long contract (that means you Ned), then they will have a great duo for years to come and hopefully bring a championship back to Chavez Ravine.