Where Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw Rank with Best 1-2 Combos in MLB

Mitch PetanickCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2012

Where Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw Rank with Best 1-2 Combos in MLB

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    Zack Greinke is reportedly going to remain in the great Sunshine State, opting to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweeted earlier that the deal is done. It should be official as of Monday, pending a physical.

    The wait is over. Earlier today, it seemed like the Texas Rangers were going to walk away with the top available free-agent pitcher.

    What a difference a few hours make.

    The six-year $144 million deal is the largest contract ever given to a right-handed pitcher, according to ESPN. Greinke's deal dwarfs the deal Matt Cain signed for five years and $112.5 million earlier this year.

    The lesson to be learned here is: If you are a right-handed pitcher, move to California.

    In all seriousness though, this move will certainly fall under some scrutiny, simply because of the numbers that are associated with the deal. But if it leads to the Dodgers holding up a World Series trophy at season's end, does it really matter?

    I'm sure Don Mattingly is going to bed smiling tonight.

    The Dodgers now have one of the most formidable 1-2 punches in MLB. Now that Greinke is joining the ranks with Clayton Kershaw, we can take a look to see where the Dodgers' top two pitchers rank amongst the other top 1-2 combos in MLB. 

8. Detroit Tigers

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    Justin Verlander 17-8, 2.64 ERA, 239 K

    Doug Fister 10-10, 3.45 ERA, 137 K

    Verlander is one of those pitchers who are so good, that it doesn’t really matter who pitches behind him—they would still be on this list. Verlander is five-time All-Star and won the Cy Young in 2011.

    Even when he doesn’t win the Cy Young, he is always in the mix.

    Fister wasn’t in any Cy Young talks in 2012, but he gets the job done behind Verlander. He looked solid in the postseason, pitching in 19 innings to a 1.40 ERA. Verlander and Fister were definitely a big reason why Detroit made it to the World Series in 2012.

7. Cincinnati Reds

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    Johnny Cueto 19-9, 2.78 ERA, 170 K

    Mat Latos 14-4, 3.48 ERA, 185 K

    Cueto and Latos definitely turned some heads in 2012.

    Had Cueto not gone down in the divisional series with an injury, it could have changed the landscape of the entire playoffs.

    With both pitchers in their mid-20s, they’ll hopefully have more chances to make some playoff noise in the future.

6. New York Yankees

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    CC Sabathia 15-6, 3.38 ERA, 197 K

    Hiroki Kuroda 16-11, 3.32 ERA, 167 K

    Sabathia and Kuroda are a formidable 1-2 punch at the top of the New York Yankees rotation. They combined for 31 out of the 95 wins the Yankees had in 2012.

    They will have their work cut out for them in 2013, because as of right now, the Bronx Bombers are going to have some major holes in their lineup.

    In past years, Yankees pitchers could get away with giving up four or five runs and expect the offense to get them out of a jam. It may not be the case anymore.


5. San Francisco Giants

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    Matt Cain 16-5, 2.79 ERA, 193 K

    Madison Bumgarner 16-11, 3.37 ERA, 191 K

    Zack Greinke may be the highest paid right-handed pitcher in baseball now, but Cain has the rings.

    Cain helped lead his Giants to another World Series victory in 2012. He’s also in Cy Young discussions practically every season. We see why Cain was once the highest paid righty in the game, but will Greinke prove he is worth more with the Dodgers one day? 

    Bumgarner followed up his breakout 2011 season, where he garnered some Cy Young mentions, with another solid 2012 campaign. Although the Giants had a much better 1-2 combination in the rotation when Tim Lincecum was on the top of his game, Cain and Bumgarner did enough to win a World Series in 2012.

    Isn’t that what it’s all about?

4. Tampa Bay Rays

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    David Price 20-5, 2.56 ERA, 205 K

    James Shields 15-10, 3.52 ERA, 223 K

    For having one of the better 1-2 combinations in the league, you wouldn’t be able to tell with the way the Rays have been shopping their starters this offseason.

    However, if they remain intact, the Rays have two guys at the top of their rotation who have the potential to win a Cy Young Award. Price already has one on his mantle after 2012, and Shields was third in Cy Young voting in 2011.

    Shields has definitely shown that he has the ability to pitch at an elite level, which makes the two Rays pitchers one of the better 1-2 punches in MLB.

3. Philadelphia Phillies

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    Roy Halladay 11-8, 4.49 ERA, 132 K

    Cliff Lee 6-9, 3.16 ERA, 207 K

    Both guys are coming off of down years, but they are still two of the more dominant pitchers in the game.

    Halladay’s resume speaks for itself, and he is included in Cy Young talks almost every season. Lee seems like a mercenary who other contending teams are always looking to add at the trade deadline as they make their playoff push.

    The Phillies just traded for Michael Young earlier today (per Phillies.com) and look like they are serious about reclaiming their place atop the NL East in 2013. That is, if their pitchers can get back on track.

2. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Clayton Kershaw 14-9, 2.53 ERA, 229 K

    Zack Greinke 15-5, 3.48 ERA, 200 K

    Kershaw has solidified himself as one of the premiere pitchers in the game today. He took home a Cy Young Award in 2011 and came in second for the Cy in 2012.

    You could slot just about anyone behind him in the rotation and still have one of the most dangerous 1-2 combos in the league. Slot a former Cy Young winner in Greinke behind Kershaw, and it could get scary.

    Some may argue this is the scariest 1-2 punch in the league. Believe or not, there may be one even scarier.   

1. Washington Nationals

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    Stephen Strasburg 15-6, 3.16 ERA, 197 SO

    Gio Gonzalez 21-8, 2.89 ERA, 207 SO

    Gonzalez is a two-time All-Star and finished third in Cy Young voting in 2012—and he’s the No. 2 pitcher in the rotation.

    Not much has to be said about Stephen Strasburg. He is one of the more special pitchers we have seen in a long time. If the Nats hadn’t shut him down with an entire month of the season left to play, who knows, maybe his name would have been tossed around in Cy Young talks.

    The Nationals will always second guess shutting Strasburg down early in 2012 after getting knocked out of the playoffs sooner than they hoped. Something tells me that won’t happen again in 2013, and the Nationals may have two guys in Cy Young talks at the end of the year.