Greinke's approach impresses staffmate Haren

Greinke's approach impresses staffmate Haren

LOS ANGELES -- Dan Haren and Zack Greinke got to know each other as teammates with the Angels in 2012, and they're reunited up Interstate 5 with the Dodgers in a rotation that stacks up favorably with any in the Major Leagues.

Greinke, who gets the call in Sunday's series finale against the Pirates at Dodger Stadium, has been as brilliant as any pitcher in the game this season. He's 8-1 in 11 starts with a 2.18 ERA, striking out 76 while walking only 14 in 66 innings.

At age 30, one-third of the way through his 11th season, Greinke is on pace to eclipse his numbers during his 2009 Cy Young Award-winning season with the Royals when he was 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and 242 strikeouts in 229 1/3 innings. Greinke had an MLB-record 22 consecutive starts yielding two or fewer earned runs snapped Tuesday, when he was charged with three earned runs in 7 2/3 innings of a 6-3 win against the Reds.

"Zack's just so smart," Haren said. "He knows what he can do with what he's got. His stuff is really good. He's using his slider a lot, and it's one of the best in baseball. Zack knows how to pitch. He studies hitters and has the ability to execute his game plan with four really good pitches.

"He doesn't give in [to hitters], but he challenges guys. His walks are low, and his strikeouts are high. He keeps hitters off-balance with the ability to throw any pitch in any count."

Haren and fellow veteran Josh Beckett have come through in a big way to give manager Don Mattingly top-to-bottom excellence behind Clayton Kershaw, Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Haren, whose next start will be Tuesday night against the White Sox, is 5-3 with a 3.28 ERA in 11 outings, delivering 68 2/3 innings in characteristic style as a staff workhorse.

"It's a lot of fun pitching with these guys," Haren said. "These are really good guys who know what they're doing out there."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.