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Preview, #37: Arizona Diamondbacks vs Pittsburgh Pirates

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Patrick Corbin has some clown-sized shoes to step into, after last night's one-hit outing by Zack Greinke.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

PITTSBURGH PIRATES ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Josh Harrison - 2B A.J. Pollock - CF
Jordy Mercer - SS David Peralta - RF
Andrew McCutchen - CF Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Gregory Polanco - RF Jake Lamb - 3B
David Freese - 3B Yasmany Tomas - LF
Jose Osuna - LF Brandon Drury - 2B
Josh Bell - 1B Chris Owings - SS
Chris Stewart - C Chris Iannetta - C
Tyler Glasnow - RHP Patrick Corbin - LHP

How good was Greinke's outing last night? It really depends how you want to look at it. By Game Score [a metric invented by Bill James, which incorporates a number of factors to measure a starting pitcher's performance] it was good, measuring an 86 - the last start to merit that was Josh Collmenter's 27-up, 27-down. But it may surprise you to learn that there have been no less than 26 starts in team history with a higher score. Admittedly, it has been a while: the last superior outing was Ian Kennedy's one-hit game against the Pirates in September 2011, which was a 90. But 26 better starts than last night?

One key issue is the earned run Greinke allowed. Game Score whacks four points off for that, so if Gregory Polanco had, say, been stranded on third instead of trotting round the bases, then Greinke's outing would have been a 90, and tied for 12th all-time. The other limitation is Zack not going nine innings: of the 26 superior Game Scores, only three were not complete games. Those final three outs would have given Greinke five more points, tying him up with Kennedy's outing, as tenth-best all time. But what really pushes Greinke down the list is, it's dominated by Randy Johnson, who has a full half of all those better starts. 13 times he had a Game Score of 87 or better.

Yes, great as Greinke was last night, that was almost commonplace for the Big Unit. Hell, at one point late in the 2002 season he had a six-week period that included three starts better than Greinke's last night: Game Scores of 92 (two-hit shutout, 11 K's), 89 (six-hit shutout, 16 K's) and finishing with a 96 (three-hit shutout, 17 K's). It's easy to forget just how freakin' astonishing Randy Johnson was in his prime, and I only regret that I did not cling on to every pitch at the time, not appreciating what we had. Because we quite likely will never see its like again in the major-leagues, least of all sporting a Diamondbacks' uniform.