Jun 29, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (right) and Zack Greinke against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Up: 40 percent of the starting pitching
The pitching was Jerkyll and Hyde for a lot of the season, and it started quite horribly. Hyun-jin Ryu threw exactly zero pitches this season and Brandon McCarthy threw 24 innings before Tommy John claimed him.
Kershaw finished the season with 301 strikeouts. Kershaw has been the best pitcher in baseball for roughly the last five years, and he surpassed his old career high in strikeouts by 53. By some measures, Kershaw actually regressed this season. Coming off an MVP and a 1.77 ERA/1.81 FIP last year, Kershaw “struggled”, posting a 2.13 ERA and a 1.99 FIP. Maybe this is the beginning of the end.
Before Kershaw’s 10th start of the season, his ERA was 4.32. Starting with that 10th start against the Braves, Kershaw posted a 1.39 ERA and a 1.61 FIP in his remaining 24 regular season starts and struck out 228 batters while issuing 26 walks.
Greinke was much less dominant, but his consistency this season was incredible. Watching pitchers turn hitters into blindfolded children hitting piñatas is my definition of domination, and Kershaw did that for most of the season. Greinke had 101 fewer strikeouts than Kershaw, but was dominant in his own way.
Greinke started 32 games this season. He gave up no runs in 12 games, one run in nine games, two runs in five games, three runs in four games and five runs in two games. Baseball Reference only tracks ERAs after a start is completed, and Greinke’s highest post-start ERA was 1.95. While Kershaw was making batters look like fools, Greinke was quietly going about his business and keeping runs off the board. I don’t think I recall ever seeing a pair of teammates dominate in completely different ways, but it sure was great to watch.
Next: The Rest of the Rotation, Not So Much