Garrett Richards

Chasing Hershiser: Inside the numbers during Zack Greinke’s scoreless streak

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Dodgers starter Zack Greinke extended his scoreless innings streak to 43 2/3 innings with eight shutout frames against the Nationals on Sunday. It’s the longest streak since former Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser set the major league record with 59 scoreless innings during the 1988 season. Greinke, overall, scattered three hits with a walk and 11 strikeouts. He now has a 9-2 record with a 1.30 ERA, a 0.82 WHIP, and a 117/21 K/BB ratio in 131 1/3 innings.

Hershiser’s streak spanned seven starts between August 30 and September 28. He allowed two runs to the Expos in the fifth inning before finishing out the rest of the season in scoreless fashion. He was in the midst of eight consecutive complete games and would’ve made it nine had the game in which he made his final start of the season not gone 16 innings — he went 10. Greinke’s streak thus far has spanned six starts, beginning in the first inning on June 18 against the Rangers. The pitchers’ respective stat lines during those spans of time:

  • Hershiser: 7 GS, 64 IP (9 1/3 IP per start), 36 H, 2 ER, 11 BB, 43 K
  • Greinke: 6 GS, 43 2/3 IP (7 1/3 IP per start), 19 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 42 K

ESPN Stats & Info notes that Greinke is only the third pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) to rack up six consecutive scoreless starts in a season. Hershiser and Hideo Nomo are the others. They also point out that opposing hitters have hit to the tune of a .094 batting average against Greinke’s fastball, which is 53 points lower than any other qualified pitcher in that span of time.

According to Baseball Reference, Greinke is also the 14th pitcher since 1914 to rack up at least six starts of at least six innings each while limiting the opposition to four or fewer hits in each outing. It’s an eclectic list:

Name Strk Start End Games Tm
Johan Santana 2004-06-15 2004-08-01 10 MIN
Ted Lilly 2011-09-17 2012-05-07 8 LAD
A.J. Burnett 2007-08-12 2007-09-13 7 TOR
Garrett Richards 2014-06-04 2014-07-01 6 LAA
Matt Harvey 2012-09-19 2013-04-24 6 NYM
Carlos Zambrano 2010-09-04 2010-10-02 6 CHC
Carlos Zambrano 2006-05-16 2006-06-10 6 CHC
Pedro Martinez 2006-04-22 2006-05-20 6 NYM
Sid Fernandez 1989-09-21 1990-04-22 6 NYM
Mark Langston 1988-08-29 1988-09-24 6 SEA
Jim Palmer 1972-05-05 1972-05-28 6 BAL
Nolan Ryan 1971-04-29 1971-05-29 6 NYM
Bob Feller 1946-07-24 1946-08-13 6 CLE
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/19/2015.

By the way, it’s going to take some work to overcome Greinke in the NL Cy Young Award race. With Sunday’s outing, Greinke expanded his ERA lead to 79 points over Max Scherzer, 1.30 to 2.09. Four other hurlers are on the periphery: A.J. Burnett (2.11), Jacob deGrom (2.14), Gerrit Cole (2.30), and Shelby Miller (2.33). For Greinke to get his ERA back to 2.00, at his current rate of about seven innings per start, he would need to allow 30 runs over his next 84 innings over 12 starts, which is the equivalent of a 3.21 ERA.