LOS ANGELES -- If the Los Angeles Dodgers have a problem with Jake Arrieta winning the National League Cy Young and beating out their guys, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, they should have done something about it when they had a chance.
Instead, he no-hit them on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball just as the pennant races were heating up. The Dodgers could scrounge just one base runner, a Jimmy Rollins walk, and they struck out 12 times in that Aug. 30 game at Dodger Stadium.
Instead of tarnishing Arrieta's chances, the Dodgers gave him his signature moment in a memorable season, one of three remarkable seasons by National League pitchers, two of whom happened to be Dodgers.
When the baseball writers' vote was unveiled Wednesday and Arrieta was the winner, there wasn't going to be a lot of outrage coming from the West Coast, even from the most diehard Dodgers fan. Yes, perhaps Greinke should have won it because he was the best in the league at preventing runs, which should probably be the ultimate determinant. After all, it's what determines whether a team wins the games.
And yes, Kershaw was slightly more dominant in the aspects of the game a pitcher has the most control over, a batter's ability to make contact. He had by far the most strikeouts (301), which led to the best fielding-independent pitching numbers.
But in neither case was the Dodgers pitcher so much better than Arrieta that voters choosing the middle road -- the second-most dominant pitcher and the second-best pitcher at preventing runs -- doesn't seem like a defensible choice. Arrieta had 17 first-place votes, Greinke had 10 and Kershaw had three. Each pitcher was on all 30 ballots. Had he not been, it would have launched an investigation.
This wasn't like 2012, when R.A. Dickey beat out Kershaw because his story was so compelling. A decent statistical argument could have been made for Arrieta.
Greinke, not a big fan of canned TV moments, was the only one of the three finalists not to appear on the MLB Network's presentation Wednesday night. Kershaw, who seemed bemused by the whole thing while his buddies mugged for the cameras with matching sweaters around their necks, repeated his stance, before the announcement, that Greinke should be the winner.
"He definitely still has my vote," Kershaw said.
If Greinke was watching -- and it's hard to imagine he wasn't -- something John Smoltz said in the broadcast probably meant almost as much to him as another Cy Young would have. Smoltz, who played 10 years with fellow Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, endorsed the increasingly common comparison between the two extreme control pitchers.
"Yeah, that's a great comp, Greg Maddux," Smoltz said.
Other than the obvious reasons to be flattered by being compared to Maddux, Greinke has this to think about: From 1998 to 2004, Maddux went 121-66 with a 3.18 ERA. Those happen to be Maddux's age 32 through 38 seasons. Greinke, 32, is a free agent, with teams, including perhaps the Dodgers, lining up six-year deals to sign him this winter.
Of course, by the time he turned 32, Maddux had won all four of his Cy Youngs. Wednesday would have been Greinke's second. Did he deserve it? Probably. Is he or anyone else going to make a big issue of it? Hardly.