This time, Greinke starts for Diamondbacks vs. Braves (Jul 24, 2017)
PHOENIX -- Zack Greinke is one of the majors' dominant pitchers -- as proven by his 11-4 record and 2.97 ERA in 19 starts. The results are exactly what the Arizona Diamondbacks expect from a pitcher who is making $31 million this season.
However, in what might have been the Diamondbacks' critical weekend of the season -- when they were swept in three games by the Atlanta Braves from July 14-16 -- Greinke was on the sidelines along with fellow NL All-Star pitcher Robbie Ray.
When Greinke finally gets around to facing the Braves on Monday night at Chase Field, it will be only his second start in 17 days.
It is an uncommonly light amount of work for an elite starter who wasn't injured. Ray pitched on Sunday against the Washington Nationals, only his second start in 17 days, and he gave up four runs in the first inning of a 6-2 loss.
Arizona manager Torey Lovullo rested his two aces in the first series following the All-Star break, choosing to go to Atlanta with a set rotation rather than adjusting to however many innings Greinke and/or Ray pitched in the All-Star Game.
Greinke worked an inning, but so did a number of other top starters around the majors, and nearly all of them pitched during the weekend that Greinke and Ray sat.
Sitting Greinke and Ray during the Atlanta series might not have swung the Diamondbacks' season. However, after Greinke shut out the Cincinnati Reds over seven innings in a 6-3 win at Chase Field on July 7, the Diamondbacks were only five games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League East race.
After he finally returned to the mound again last Wednesday, a 4-3 Arizona loss in Cincinnati in which Greinke gave up three runs and eight hits in five innings, the Diamondbacks were a distant 10 games out -- and all but out of the division race.
They dropped five games in the standings in a span of five days, part of stretches in which the Dodgers won 31 of 35 and the Diamondbacks lost eight of nine.
Still, Greinke doesn't think the break affected him, even though he pitched much better against the Reds before the break than he did after it.
"I felt really good," he said. "I don't mind really long layoffs. It doesn't affect my location or anything. All of my pitches were sharp, but they had good at-bats. ... Maybe it's because they'd just seen my pitches (12 days before) and they felt comfortable up there."
Greinke hasn't seen the Braves that much during his career, going 2-1 with a 3.07 ERA in seven career starts against them, striking out 53 in 44 innings. He has dominated several of Atlanta's top hitters. Freddie Freeman hits only .111 against him, and Brandon Phillips owns a .120 average.
Greinke will be opposed by R.A. Dickey (6-6, 4.14 ERA). Atlanta's knuckleballing right-hander beat the Diamondbacks 4-3 on July 14, allowing eight hits but only one run in six innings, striking out four and walking two. Dickey has frustrated the Diamondbacks before, going 2-1 with a 1.61 ERA in four career starts against them.
"You've got to manage this (Arizona) lineup," Dickey said. "That's a really good team over there. If you see some breathing room, sometimes you've just got to take a walk and face the next guy."
Dickey has enjoyed some breathing room of late. He has allowed no more than one run while lasting at least six innings in each of his past five starts.
Expect Diamondbacks outfielder Daniel Descalso to be in the lineup, as Descalso is 8-of-13 (.615) against Dickey.
The Braves are 5-5 since the break despite sweeping the Diamondbacks, as they were swept by the Chicago Cubs in three games in their subsequent series. They won the first two games of a weekend series against the Dodgers but settled for a split after a 5-4, 10-inning loss Sunday in Los Angeles. Matt Adams tied the game with a two-out, three-run homer in the ninth before Logan Forsythe singled home the winner in the 10th.