Superb pitching is powering the Los Angeles Dodgers, and giving the ball to Zack Greinke may only see that continue.
The Cincinnati Reds, however, are countering with an impressive arm of their own in Alfredo Simon.
Greinke tries to give Los Angeles another gem on the mound while Simon looks to continue his dominance Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Los Angeles (28-24) has compiled a 2.21 ERA while winning five of seven games. However, the Dodgers have been particularly dominant over the last two.
Josh Beckett tossed a no-hitter in Sunday’s 6-0 win at Philadelphia, while Hyun-Jin Ryu nearly made Los Angeles the first team to have back-to-back no-nos Monday. His bid for a perfect game ended on Todd Frazier’s leadoff double in the eighth, as the Dodgers took the opener of this three-game set 4-3.
"It gives us confidence as a ballclub that what we’ve been built for is to pitch," manager Don Mattingly said. "It tells me we can get on a roll."
The Dodgers’ starting rotation is fourth in the majors with a 3.15 ERA, and Greinke (7-1, 2.01 ERA) is a big part of that.
Greinke is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in four games at Chavez Ravine this year, giving him an 11-2 record and 2.18 ERA in 18 starts there since joining the Dodgers prior to last season. One of those defeats, though, came against the Reds (22-27) on July 25, giving up four runs and two homers in seven innings.
That’s his only loss against four wins in eight career starts versus Cincinnati. He owns a 2.62 ERA in those contests, and the Nos. 2-5 hitters in the Reds’ lineup Monday – Zack Cozart, Brandon Phillips, Frazier and Ryan Ludwick – are a combined 8 for 54 (.148) with 19 strikeouts against the right-hander.
Greinke has a 1.35 ERA while going 2-0 over his last three overall starts. However, he labored Thursday, throwing 101 pitches in five innings while allowing three runs – one earned – in a 5-3 loss to the New York Mets.
Errors by Matt Kemp and Justin Turner were responsible for ending Greinke’s stretch of 21 straight starts allowing two or fewer runs – the major’s best stretch since at least 1914.
"Just in my experience, we’ve played incredible defense when I’m pitching throughout the years," Greinke said, "so, if someone makes one mistake in one game, you can’t really say too much."
While Greinke has been tough to beat at home, Simon (6-2, 2.31) has been especially terrific on the road, winning all five of his starts behind a 1.05 ERA while holding opponents to .179 batting.
This will be the first start at Dodger Stadium for Simon, who has recorded a 0.61 ERA in winning his last two starts – both as the visitor
"He’s not just a special talent, but really a special arm," manager Bryan Price told the team’s official website after the right-hander gave up a run over seven innings in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Washington.
Simon has allowed one run in 2 1-3 innings of relief over two outings against Los Angeles.
It’s unclear if he’ll have to contend with Kemp, who has missed four straight games while being groomed to play left field since the Dodgers feel he can’t handle the rigors of center after undergoing left ankle surgery during the offseason.
Kemp, though, just wants to play.
"I’m healthy, man," Kemp said. "I feel good. I just want to play."
While Kemp transitions to left, Carl Crawford will handle the position, Andre Ethier will play center field and Yasiel Puig will play right field.
Puig walked twice Monday and has reached base safely in 27 consecutive games, over which he’s batting .406 with a .504 on-base percentage.