Way back when ace hurlers Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain were leading the Boston Braves to the World Series, the saying went "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain.” Of course, in today’s age of OBP, WAR and VGQ (don’t ask me what that last one is), someone might point out that those Braves had a better record without Spahn and Sain than with them.
But anyway, given how large Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw -- or is it Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke? -- loom for the Dodgers, might we start hearing something along the lines of “Kershaw and Greinke and pray for a tsunami?” Probably not. But with LA’s #1 and #1A starters (again, not sure which is which) possibly on board for four of the five games the team is scheduled to play against the Mets in the upcoming NL Division Series, Mets fans are surely praying for something.
What can you say about the Dodgers’ two aces? In Kershaw, the NL West Champs may well have baseball’s best pitcher of the past 50 years. In Greinke, they’ve got a guy who just had one of the best seasons any pitcher has had in the past 50 years -- if not longer. 19-3, 1.66 ERA. No, really.
If it seems unfair that the Dodgers are blessed with, arguably (though it’s not much of an argument), MLB’s two best hurlers, well, it is. Not much else to add on that.
But great as they are, Greinke and Kershaw aren’t unbeatable. Remember this: the two pitchers made a total of 65 starts this season -- and won 35 games. So, in other words, they left nearly half of their starts without a W. While they only lost 10 of those, another 25 were no-decisions that were handed off to the LA bullpen -- which has been relatively erratic in the seventh and eighth innings. In the ninth, though, closer Kenley Jansen has been a force, blowing only two saves all year and striking out 80 -- while walking just eight -- in 52 innings.
There’s also the fact that Kershaw has been very un-Kershaw-like in the postseason. In four trips to the playoffs, the lefty has a 1-5 record with a 5.12 ERA.
And it’s not like facing the Mets’ pitching staff will be a picnic for the Dodgers lineup, which has been mediocre at the bat in 2015. The team finished eighth in the NL with 683 runs. Even the Mets did better.
So if the Amazins can manage to hang with the Dodgers aces for 100 or so pitches while their own hurlers hold their own, they’ve got a good shot to get ahead against LA’s middle relief. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt if Kershaw plays like his playoff self, instead of the regular season edition.