Dodgers’ Outfield Even More Crowded, Greinke on Record Streak

As the 2014 season was to begin, critics of the Dodgers expressed the opinion that the team could not go through the season with four starting outfielders, requiring that star-caliber, high-priced players would be spending too much of their valuable time on the bench. What these critics failed to take into account was the fact that every one of these outfielders has missed more than average time with injuries, some such as both Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford, with significant injuries and missing significant time. Four outfielders only meant that there could actually be three healthy ones available for most games.

But the new wrinkle is the outstanding play of outfielder number five, Scott Van Slyke, who has earned and who is now receiving playing time almost on a par with his fellow outfielders. Looking at the stats, Van Slyke in fact has, so far this season, by far the highest batting average of any of the outfielders, and in a fraction of the at bats any of the others have, more home runs, two, than any of them except for the three hit by Matt Kemp.


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The outfield log jam has gotten more loggy and more jammy, and it figures to remain that way unless a couple of these guys go on solid power streaks, securing more playing time. At least the fact that two of the outfielders hit left handed and the other three right handed, with no switch hitters, has made a platoon system feasible, for now that is. And remember, the Dodgers’ best prospect in years, well, since Matt Kemp at least, and the center fielder of the not too distant future, Joc Pederson, is waiting in the wings to join the fray.

Last night, the Dodgers suffered an agonizing loss to the National League’s worst team, the pathetic Arizona Diamondbacks. In the game, new ace Zack Greinke allowed one earn run over six innings pitched, lowering his season ERA to 2.42. But, more significantly, the game was the 16th consecutive game in which Greinke allowed two runs or less, tying a major league record that has stood for 97 years. Back during the 1916-1917 seasons, one Ferdie Schupp, a lefty who toiled for the New York Giants at that time, set this long-standing record. Unfortunately, Schupp’s career was not also long-standing.

Schupp made a handful of uneventful appearances during the 1913, 14, and 15 seasons, but late in 1916 he earned a starting spot, and compiled a 9-3 record with a sparkling 0.90 ERA over 140 innings. Had he pitched another 14 innings, he would have set the all-time record for lowest ER for a season. He began his 16-game streak that season, and completed it in 1917, when he went 21-7 with a 1.95 ERA. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the last success he would enjoy. He pitched for five more seasons, but his record for those
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years was 40-40, while pitching with five different teams, and his career was over at age 31.

Despite his only brief success, Schupp’s name has endured for almost a century for this record, but Greinke will have the opportunity to erase it forever when he takes the mound for the Dodgers next Wednesday against the Phillies.

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