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Greinke confident, focused heading into Gm 5

Although free agency approaching, righty has sights set on taking NLDS vs. Mets

LOS ANGELES -- Zack Greinke is content to throw the baseball and leave the overanalysis to others.

Greinke didn't sound too concerned as he addressed whether the edge belongs to a pitcher or the hitters he faces when the sides meet in back-to-back games. This is the situation Greinke will confront when he and the Dodgers oppose the Mets in Thursday's conclusive Game 5 of the National League Division Series (8 p.m. ET, TBS). Last Saturday, Greinke surrendered two runs and five hits in seven innings and received the decision in Los Angeles' 5-2 triumph in Game 2.

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"It seems like in my experience, usually you have one good game and one bad game," Greinke said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters. "But the better you pitch, the better your chances are. So my plan is just to pitch as good as possible, and hopefully it works out."

For what it's worth, Greinke has pitched consecutively against an opponent three times in the regular season and twice in the postseason since 2009, the year he won the American League Cy Young Award with Kansas City. In the trio of regular-season rematches, his ERA was 2.65 and he struck out 19 in 17 innings, indicating that facing him remained a challenge.

More significantly, Greinke lost to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the 2011 NL Championship Series after defeating them in the series opener. But three of the five runs he yielded in 5 2/3 innings in Game 5 were unearned. He won Game 5 of the 2013 NLCS against the Cardinals (seven innings, six hits, two runs) after receiving a no-decision but pitching impressively in the opener (eight innings, four hits, two runs and 10 strikeouts).

Right-hander Jacob deGrom, the Mets' Game 5 starter, possesses the same trust in his array of pitches that Greinke has. deGrom's return appearance after striking out 13 during seven shutout innings in Game 1 of this series isn't necessarily something the Dodgers are eagerly awaiting.

Tale of the Tape: deGrom vs. Greinke

"If he's on and he's throwing the ball where he wants and making pitches, it's going to be a difficult day," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, the same [goes] for Zack. If he's able to do that, it could be the other way."

For the Dodgers, pondering the game's subtext -- the possibility that this will be Greinke's final appearance in a Los Angeles uniform -- is about as ominous as facing deGrom.

Greinke can opt out of the final three years of his six-year, $147 million contract and become a free agent. Although Greinke is guaranteed $71 million from 2016-18, he almost surely would more than double that figure on the open market. He might command as much as $30 million annually.

Consider: Left-hander Jon Lester received a six-year, $155 million package from the Cubs last offseason after finishing 16-11 to improve his overall record to 116-67. Greinke's coming off a 19-3 mark that gave him an .864 winning percentage and complemented his 1.66 ERA, both Major League-best figures. In short, Greinke could receive a significantly more lucrative deal than Lester on the open market, if he chose to pursue one.

Greinke remained polite yet noncommital when asked about the potential end of his L.A. story.

"I haven't thought about it too much, but everything's been great so far," he said. "I really can't think of anything not positive to say about the whole experience. It's all been good."

Chris Haft is a reporter for
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