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Zack Greinke, at least for the moment, looks to be back in Cy Young form.
Greinke threw a dazzling two-hit shutout against the Rockies, in which only one ball reached the outfield. He became the first Dodgers pitcher to throw consecutive starts of seven innings or more allowing two hits or fewer since Chan Ho Park in 2000.
Greinke has won five straight starts for the first time since 2011 and threw a shutout for the first time since 2009, the year in which he won the award for being baseball’s top pitcher.
Greinke is one of four Dodgers to throw a 1-0 shutout on two hits or fewer in the last 50 years, the others being Sandy Koufax (in his perfect game against the Chicago Cubs in 1965), Fernando Valenzuela (1982 against the Pittsburgh Pirates) and Ismael Valdez (1998 against the Oakland Athletics).
He’s now won 24 of his last 26 decisions at home (for three different teams), including a 5-0 mark this season.
How he won
What’s worked for Greinke? Quite simply, everything.
In his last two starts, Greinke has averaged 92 mph on his fastball, up a mile-per-hour from what he’d done previously this season. He threw one 94 mph or faster 17 times on Saturday night, five more than he had in all of his previous starts this season combined. The fastball netted 12 swings-and-misses, one more than it did in his three prior starts combined.
Greinke also had a nasty slider/cutter combination. Those pitches netted him eight outs and yielded one baserunner (via walk) on Saturday. In his previous start, it netted six outs and resulted in only one baserunner, also via walk.
Greinke has neutralized left-handed hitters the last two games, limiting them to two hits in 24 at-bats. Most notably, Carlos Gonzalez was 0-for-3 against him Saturday after hitting two homers and a triple against him earlier this season.
Prior to these last two starts, lefties were hitting .315 against him this season.
If Greinke were to have another start of seven innings or more and two hits or fewer allowed, he’d be only the third pitcher in the live ball era to have three straight such starts. The other two are Randy Johnson (1997) and Damian Moss (2002).
Greinke’s next win will be the 100th of his career.