The potential Kershaw-Greinke dynamic

February, 14, 2013
2/14/13
11:09
AM PT
The 1965 Dodgers reached and won the World Series riding the arms of two pitchers, Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. Thirty-six years later, the Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off a similar feat with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.

If things go according to plan, the Dodgers will produce more offense than either of those teams, but it's amazing what can be accomplished with just two ace pitchers.

It's even more amazing when one of them is right-handed and the other is left-handed. It helps when both of them, like Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, have power arms.

You see a similar dynamic with hitters. Think Miguel Cabrera-Prince Fielder or Manny Ramirez-David Ortiz. The Angels are trying to pull it off with Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. A combination of opposite-handed power hitters are tougher to match up against and can power a team deep into October.

In pitching, it means opposing managers won't have a set lineup during series. They will pull some of their left-handed hitters when Kershaw is pitching. The next night, those hitters will be back in the lineup, cold, trying to hit Greinke's 94-mph fastball or slow curveball. Not an easy task.

It is, of course, premature to equate Kershaw and Greinke with two tandems that included three future Hall of Famers and one, Schilling, with a pretty good chance of becoming one. But you can see what the Dodgers were going for when they made Greinke the richest right-handed pitcher of all time. It's not just the individual talents, but the effect they have on the other.

Greinke said last month at FanFest that he's only had one season, 2009, when he was the clearcut No. 1 starter, so he's comfortable sliding into a secondary role. The Dodgers' top three starters figure to be Kershaw, Greinke and either Josh Beckett or Chad Billingsley.

"I guess everywhere I've been people always think someone's better," Greinke said.

And, by the way, Greinke's not yet ready to proclaim the Dodgers' staff the best in the National League. He pays close attention to the rest of baseball and he singled out the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants as threats to the Dodgers for top rotation.

"When I first got in the majors, I don't remember there being even one team with that good a pitching staff," Greinke said. "Now, there are three just in the National League."

Mark Saxon

ESPNLosAngeles.com
Mark Saxon is a staff writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. He spent six years at the Orange County Register, and began his career at the Oakland Tribune, where he started an 11-year journey covering Major League Baseball. He has also covered colleges, including USC football and UCLA basketball.

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Clayton Kershaw
WINS ERA SO IP
21 1.77 239 198
OTHER LEADERS
BAY. Puig .296
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239