The Dodgers go for a series win and a 5-2 road trip on getaway day against the Reds on Thursday morning in Cincinnati, with Zack Greinke and Alfredo Simon facing off at Great American Ball Park. The Dodgers, as expected, will do so without shortstop Hanley Ramirez in the starting lineup for a second straight day.
Ramirez was a late scratch from Wednesday night's lineup with irritation in the A-C joint of his right shoulder, an injury that he said bothered him more in the field than at the plate. Ramirez pinch hit for the Dodgers in the seventh inning on Wednesday with the bases loaded but grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Greinke struck out 11 Reds in Los Angeles on May 27, tying his season high. The right-hander has 89 strikeouts in 79 innings this season and at 27.5 percent has the second-best strikeout rate of his career.
The two most effective pitches for Greinke in 2014 have been his slider and changeup. His slider is 1.50 weighted runs created above average per 100 pitches, tied for 11th in baseball per Fangraphs. Opposing hitters are hitting .183 with a .310 slugging percentage against his slider in 2014, with 31 strikeouts in 74 plate appearances per Brooks Baseball.
Greinke's change is 1.36 runs above average per 100 pitches, 22nd in the majors, and opposing hitters are hitting .215 with a .323 slugging percentage against that pitch this season.
Maybe that's why Greinke is 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA in nine career starts against the Reds with 76 strikeouts and 11 walks in 62⅔ innings, including 4-0 with a 2.65 ERA in five starts in Cincinnati, with 40 strikeouts and eight walks in 34 innings.
The one start of five at Great American Ball Park that Greinke didn't win came last Sept. 7, when he struck out nine while allowing only two runs in six innings in a no-decision.
The one Red Greinke hasn't solved — and it's no surprise — is Joey Votto. The first baseman, now in his third game back off the disabled list, is 8-for-21 (.381) with three home runs, two doubles and four walks against Greinke. Roger Bernadina, 4-for-9 (.444) against Greinke, gets a spot start in left field for Cincinnati.
Simon was on the other end of Greinke's 11-strikeout win on May 27, though he didn't stick around nearly as long as did Greinke. Four waks proved Simon's undoing, including three walks in a four-run fourth inning rally that chased the right-hander and saw the Dodgers bat around for one of only six times in 2014.