When Stan Kasten was president of the Atlanta Braves, he put together one of the best pitching staffs in MLB history, with Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz forming a three-headed monster.
Not much has changed for Kasten since coming to Los Angeles, which has easily the best 1-2 pitching punch in all of baseball. Zack Greinke (10-2, 1.41 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 128 strikeouts) and Clayton Kershaw (9-6, 2.37 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 192 strikeouts) have been dominant for much of the season, especially over the last two months. Greinke has allowed four earned runs in his last eight starts, while Kershaw has allowed two in his last six.
Was there ever a year or a month when two members of the Braves’ trio was this dominant?
“There probably was,” Kasten said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “There must have been because during that decade of the ‘90s, they did win six Cy Youngs among them – so they were all clicking at the same time – but they couldn’t have been much better if they were. Greinke was on this run for two months, and Clayton has been pretty close to two months or so. So if there’s anything that rivals it, it’s very, very rare, that’s for sure.”
Kershaw’s ERA hovered around 4.00 through the first two months of the season, but he has since found his groove. Kasten was never concerned.
“Pitchers go through struggles,” he said. “(Some things were) a little off, but nothing major. Nothing ever that was a concern. I will say we also – particularly in May and June – weren’t scoring runs for anybody. Zack, in particular, we weren’t scoring runs for. He went through a stretch of great pitching without getting a win. So no, we‘re not concerned about it. He was showing us the same kind of Kershaw he’s been. If you want to call him the best pitcher in baseball, I wouldn’t argue with you, and I think most people wouldn’t – and that’s how he’s been all year.”
Thanks to Kershaw and Greinke, the Dodgers (60-45) have a three-game lead over the Giants (57-48) in the NL West despite scoring the fourth fewest runs in the division. The Dodgers were reportedly entertaining trade offers for Yasiel Puig at the deadline, but nothing ever materialized.
Puig is hitting .249 with seven home runs, 26 RBIs and 11 doubles in 58 games this season. He hit .303 in June but just .198 in July.
“I expect he’s going to be here for a very long time because we love him – even though he did go through some struggles,” Kasten said. “The question earlier in the year was, ‘Gee, would they ever trade him?’ And the answer is, ‘Sure we would.’ Are we going to? Is he being traded? No, we really value him highly. If the right thing came along – Andrew (Friedman), Farhan (Zaidi) and Josh (Byrnes), they all feel the same. Whatever they could do to make the team better, they would do. But they also see a lot of value in a 24-year-old Yasiel Puig that didn’t get a lot of time to work though problems in the minors and has still a lot to learn but so much more to give – and a guy who has shown for a month or more at a time that he can carry a whole team. And no one here feels like giving that away for anything less than full value – and full value for him would be, I think, quite a great deal.”