LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers got a no-hitter from Josh Beckett on Sunday, then saw Hyun-Jin Ryu take a perfect game into the eighth inning on Monday. On Tuesday against the Reds, the Dodgers send to the mound Zack Greinke, whose three runs allowed on Thursday marked arguably his worst start in 10 months.
Starting pitching just might be a strength of the Dodgers.
Dodgers starting pitchers are fourth in the National League with a 3.15 ERA and fourth with a 3.15 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Since the return of Clayton Kershaw from the disabled list 19 games ago, Dodgers starters are lasting longer into games too, averaging 6.12 innings per start compared to 5.74 per outing in the first 33 games of the year.
A key part of the rotation has been Greinke, the Dodgers' most consistent and best starter to date this season. His 27.4 percent strikeout rate ranks sixth among qualified major league starters and is the second best rate of his career, trailing only his 28.1 percent with Milwaukee in 2011.
Greinke is 7-1 with a 2.01 ERA with 65 strikeouts and 14 walks in 58⅔ innings.
In eight career starts against the Reds Greinke is 4-1 with a 2.62 ERA and 65 strikeouts against just 11 walks in 55 innings, though he did allow six runs in two starts against Cincinnati in 2013, both Dodgers losses.
Before allowing three runs in his last start last Thursday against the Mets, Greinke went 21 straight starts (plus three more in the playoffs) without allowing more than two runs. The last time he allowed more was last July 25, when Greinke allowed four runs in seven innings at Dodger Stadium to the Reds, including home runs by Xavier Paul and Jay Bruce.
Even with that home run, Bruce is only 4-for-25 (.160) against Greinke with seven strikeouts. Brandon Phillips is 3-for-16 (.188) with a double, and Ryan Fraizer is 2-for-11 (.182) with a double and a triple against him. The only other active Reds player with more than three career hits against Greinke is Skip Schumaker, at 5-for-17 (.294) with a double and a walk.
Alfredo Simon after two solid years in relief has made a solid transition to starting. He has eight quality starts in nine starts this year, he has allowed more than two runs only twice and has lasted at least six innings eight times. He has lasted at least seven innings five times, including in three of his last four starts.
Simon has allowed four earned runs, and five total runs in five road starts this year, in 34⅔ innings.
Only four current Dodgers have more than one plate appearance against Simon: Adrian Gonzalez is 1-for-4 with two walks, Carl Crawford is 1-for-3, while Drew Butera and Chone Figgins are both 0-for-2.
Time: 7:10 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA, with Charley Steiner, Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra on the call
ESPN is also televising the game (no blackout), with Karl Ravech, Mark Mulder and Pedro Gomez