ATLANTA — On almost any other team, Zack Greinke would be the ace. With the Los Angeles Dodgers, though, he has second billing.
The Dodgers have the top starting duo in the majors and the Atlanta Braves will have to face Greinke today after getting Clayton Kershaw in the opener of the National League Division Series on Thursday night.
“I’m not complaining for sure,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of his duo. “It’s a luxury when you have two guys like that.”
Greinke was actually even better down the stretch than Kershaw, who led all major league starters with a 1.83 ERA and is line to win a consecutive NL Cy Young Award.
In his last 10 outings, Greinke had a 1.36 ERA.
“It’s more out of the ordinary if you don’t pitch well,” he said of the loaded Dodgers staff.
Greinke — the 2009 American League Cy Young winner for the Kansas City Royals — finished 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA despite missing a month early in the season with broken collarbone. He allowed four hits over seven scoreless innings against the Braves in Atlanta on June 6 in his fifth start back.
The only blemish for Greinke is his relative lack of postseason success so far. He made three playoffs starts for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2011 and was 1-1 with a 6.48 ERA.
a fast start
Since the 2012 All-Star break, Kershaw and the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cliff Lee are the only left-handers who have better ERA marks than the 2.90 of the Braves’ Mike Minor.
“There was a point last year where he turned it around,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of his Game 2 starter against the Dodgers.
Minor, though, needs to make another adjustment for his first postseason start. The 25-year-old lost his final four decisions of the regular season to fall to 13-9 and the main culprit was rough first innings.
“Everybody has noticed it. I’ve noticed it. Everybody has talked about it,” said Minor, who was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers this year. “I think teams have been really aggressive towards me. I think I just need to make better pitches early on, go more toward the corners but yet not throw balls, don’t walk anybody.”
pinch hitter only
With outfielder Andre Ethier healthy enough to at least pinch hit, the Dodgers’ rosters decisions on Thursday weren’t as newsworthy as the Braves’ the day before, when second baseman Dan Uggla was excluded.
Not on Los Angeles’ 25-man list for the NLDS were veteran utilityman Jerry Hairston and relievers Brandon League and Carlos Marmol. Chris Capuano was picked as an extra lefty in the bullpen.
Dee Gordon made the roster in part because of the potential need of a pinch runner for Ethier, who continues to be hobbled by soreness above his left ankle. “He’s here to pinch hit. You’re not going to see him in the outfield,” Mattingly said of Ethier.
Both the Dodgers and Braves elected to go with 11 pitchers and 14 position players.
Uggla hit 22 homers this season, but slumped to a .179 average — the lowest of any major league regular. Elliot Johnson will start in his place during the NLDS.