One of Zack Greinke’s main rivals in the NL Cy Young Award race got his chance to make a final statement Friday.
The Dodgers’ right-hander will get his opportunity Saturday night against the San Diego Padres as Los Angeles attempts to secure home-field advantage in the NL division series.
The Chicago Cubs’ Jake Arrieta went six scoreless innings in a win over Milwaukee on Friday and finished 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA, including an MLB record 0.75 mark after the All-Star break.
Greinke’s supporters can point to his better overall excellence in 2015, which has him with an MLB-best 1.68 ERA heading into the final weekend. Arrieta had a 3.40 ERA on June 16 while Greinke had a 1.95.
Greinke (18-3) is 13-1 in his last 16 starts but nearly took a loss in San Francisco on Monday after giving up two runs in seven innings. The Dodgers bailed him out by scoring a run in the ninth in a 3-2 loss in 12 innings.
Los Angeles could be tempted to give Greinke only a couple of innings Saturday to get him into the postseason rested and healthy, especially with a calf issue causing him to miss a start Sept. 23 against Arizona.
Greinke, though, told manager Don Mattingly that he wants "more of a regular start" to prepare.
"Zack had a little rest after the calf thing. He looks at it like he wants a full start," Mattingly said. "It probably won’t be at 120 (pitches) or anything."
Greinke would clinch the ERA title outright by giving up three runs or fewer in five or more innings, giving him no worse than a 1.762 mark. Arrieta’s is technically at 1.769.
The Dodgers (90-70) could use a quality effort as they’re a half-game ahead of the New York Mets for home field in the NLDS. The NL East champions will play a doubleheader against Washington on Saturday and if they get swept and the Dodgers win, Los Angeles would host their playoff series.
Greinke currently has the lowest single-season ERA by a qualifying starter since Greg Maddux’s 1.63 in 1995 for Atlanta. It’s also the lowest for a Dodgers pitcher since Rube Marquard’s 1.58 in 1916.
Greinke is 7-0 with a 1.04 ERA in his last 11 home starts beginning with a 2-1 win over San Diego on May 22, when he yielded one run in 7 2-3 innings.
Greinke, who has earned all those wins in his past seven home starts, took a 2-1 loss in his most recent matchup with the Padres (74-86) on June 13 after yielding two runs in eight innings.
He’s 5-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 11 career meetings and 1-0 with a 1.31 ERA in three at Dodger Stadium since coming to Los Angeles in 2013.
The Padres have totaled 10 runs and batted .216 while losing four of five, including a 6-2 defeat in Friday’s opener that was their fourth straight in the series.
Robbie Erlin (1-1, 6.30) will try to end that skid while keeping the positivity going into his offseason after a 3-0 win over Arizona last Saturday. He went seven innings, allowed two hits and walked one in his second start of the season.
Erlin was tagged for seven runs in three-plus innings in a 10-2 loss in Colorado on Sept. 19.
The left-hander, who is likely auditioning for a spot in next season’s rotation, threw 7 2-3 shutout innings in his only start against Los Angeles on Sept. 20, 2013.