Dodgers: Kershaw and Wood Duo vs. Kershaw and Greinke Duo
By Hector Ponce
When the Dodgers signed Zack Greinke back during the winter of 2012, everyone expected him to be the second ace behind Clayton Kershaw. He was just that and even exceeded his already high expectations. But when the Dodgers traded for Alex Wood, little did they know that he would fill the void that Greinke left when departing to Arizona.
Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw were the deadliest 1-2 punch in Major League Baseball arguably for two seasons in 2015 nobody could argue against it. In 2015 they were two of the top 3 pitchers in the bigs. Zack Greinke led the majors in WHIP and ERA while Kershaw led in strikeouts. They ended the season as Cy Young Finalists but finished in second and third place behind Jake Arrieta, respectively.
The seasons that those 2 All-Stars put together is one of the best any two pitchers had ever produced. And what made it even scarier was teams had to face them on back to back days. Two pitchers both in the middle of one of their best if not the best seasons that they had ever had. They were the backbone of the team and were the driving force behind their NL West title.
Although they had great seasons, they couldn’t get a World Series ring together. But that wasn’t on them as it was more on the shoulders of the lackluster bullpen that Los Angeles had behind them that gave Dodger fans anxiety attack each time a starting pitcher was pulled. This lack of trust in the bullpen led to them being overworked and folding in the playoffs. Kershaw would stay in longer than he should have because of the grease fire that was the bullpen.
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But with Greinke, the Dodgers knew exactly what they were getting which is why he was signed to such a lucrative contract. He was signed and expected to fill the role of 1b to the 1a that was Kershaw. Prior to the 2016 season, Greinke decided to take his talents to Arizona. Leaving LA without a legitimate number 2 starter.
For all of 2016, the Dodgers did not have a reliable 2nd starter until acquiring Rich Hill late in the season. So when the Dodgers re-signed him in the off-season, he was the man that would fill Greinke’s role. He was the obvious choice after getting a nice contract and performing very well in his short stint with the Dodgers.
But Rich Hill early on in the season had nagging blisters that just seemed not to go away. Just when we thought he solved them, they would flare up again. So with Rich Hill unable to get on the bump that opened the door for somebody to try and thrust themselves into the number 2 role.
And thrust himself into that role is exactly what young left-hander Alex Wood did. After putting together great outing after great outing, people began to take notice despite the fact that he is 10-0 with a sub 2 ERA all season long. He was initially snubbed from the All-star game up until today when he was named as an NL reserve All-Star. So congrats to Alex, and thankfully after his last start, he’s showing absolutely zero signs of slowing down.
Alex Wood is doing just what Zack Greinke did in 2015. Outpitching the best pitcher in baseball for the first-half of the season. Alex Wood has been brilliant this year. Pair him with the already great Clayton Kershaw that means that these two can be a similar duo to Greinke-Kershaw if Wood continues his tear through the bigs.
In fact, they may be even better than that duo. Their record proves it.
Something else that seems like déjà vu is the fact that there is a third pitcher (Max Scherzer) in the NL that might win the Cy Young because these two might be stealing votes from each other like in 2015 when they both lost to Arrieta. What’s encouraging is that if Wood keeps on this pace, he will be under strong consideration for the Award this year and may even have a stronger case than Kershaw.
This season also parallels to the 2015 season because Clayton is “struggling.” That season going into the all-star break Clayton was 6-6 with a 2.85 ERA. This season he has had a difficulty with allowing the long ball. Meanwhile the 1b. starter is having his best season ever. Greinke was phenomenal much like Wood has been through the first half of the season.
Next: Alex Wood Named an All-Star
Although Greinke and Kershaw may sound better because of Greinke being a household name, the numbers don’t back that up. So far this season Wood plus Kershaw have proven to be better than any duo in history in terms of win percentage. If Wood is able to keep dealing, he and Kershaw will be even more deadly than Greinke was with Kershaw. Heck, with this dynamic 1-2 punch and the dominant bullpen, the Dodgers may find themselves in the World Series.