Zack Greinke

Sports Illustrated Once Called Zack Greinke "The Best Pitcher In Baseball!"

Zack Greinke’s a bit of an enigma. Brewers fans lauded the deal that brought the former Cy Young winner over from the Kansas City Royals in a trade this off season. They figured they’d finally found an ace capable of taking the team to the next level. Greinke’s tenure with the Brewers got off to a dubious start, however, after he broke a rib in an unsanctioned pickup basketball game before the season and missed several starts.

Greinke’s healthy now and has started 12 games for the Brewers so far this season, but there are rumblings among the Brewers faithful that Greinke’s not performing as advertised. I decided to do a statistical comparison of Greinke’s performance through 12 games this season, last season and in his 2009 Cy Young season with the Royals to see how they stacked up.

Here’s what I found…

In 2009, Greinke was an absolute animal. In his first 12 starts, he posted an 8-2 record with a 1.55 ERA over 87 innings, including an impressive5 complete games. He held opponents to a .223 average with 91 strikeouts against just 13 walks. Greinke surrendered just 2 home runs and his WHIP was a sparkling 0.97.

In 2010, Greinke came back to Earth. Through 12 starts, he posted a 1-7 record with a 3.60 ERA over 75 innings and managed just 1 complete game. Opponent average rose to .259 and his strikeouts dropped by 1/3 to 60, while he walked 17. Greinke surrendered 9 home runs and his WHIP at that point in the season was 1.25.

Fast forward. Present day. How does Cy Young winner Zack Greinke and 2010 Zack Greinke compare to the Brewers edition of Zack Greinke?

So far this season, Zack is 7-3 in 12 starts with an ERA of 5.66 over 68.1 innings and he has yet to throw a complete game. His opponent average is essentially the same as in 2010 (.258), but his 87 strikeouts against 14 walks are on par with his Cy Young 2009. Greinke has given up 10 home runs so far this season and his WHIP is down to 1.24 from last year.

So will the real Zack Greinke please stand up?

It seems obvious to me that Greinke’s not going to match his 2009 season totals, but looking at his 2011 numbers so far, I think that harsh criticism from Brewers fans is unwarranted. I don’t look at Greinke as a magic carpet to ride into the playoffs. I view him as a MAJOR upgrade to the pitching staff the Brewers fielded in 2010.

Jeff Suppan? 0-2 in 15 appearances with a loathsome 7.84 ERA. Doug Davis? 1-4 in 8 starts with a 7.51 ERA, a .333 opponent average and a WHIP of 1.98. What about Dave Bush? He was 1-5 through 12 starts in 2010 with a 5.06 ERA, a .293 opponent average and a 1.64 WHIP. Not a complete game pitched in the bunch. How’s Zack Greinke looking now, Brewers fans?

With just 12 starts to go on, it’s hard to tell what kind of 2011 Greinke will end up with, but I have a feeling he’ll be fine. The players like him and have confidence in him. He’s fully healthy now and capable of going deep into games. But most of all, he’s winning.

Let’s hope he can continue his winning ways and secure victory number 8 against the Cincinnati Reds tonight!


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  • Brian

    Well said! Welcome to Pocket Doppler.

  • Kenn

    Thanks! Glad to be here!

    Of course one factor I failed to mention in my article is having to replace Escobar with Betancourt at SS as a result of this trade. There’s not really any way for me to spin THAT part of the deal in a positive light. ;)

  • Chris

    This is totally spot on:

    “I don’t look at Greinke as a magic carpet to ride into the playoffs. I view him as a MAJOR upgrade to the pitching staff the Brewers fielded in 2010.”

    The problem is *expectations* (a term which can be defined as “premeditated resentments”). Viewing ZG through a Cy Young colored lens is only going to yield disappointment as his 2009 was the sort of season few pitchers ever have twice. I think Kenn is looking at this the right way, seeing Greinke as a rotation upgrade, not a reprise of CC Sabathia circa the second half of 2008.

    • BigSnakeMan

      At the same time it’s very possible that with the Brewers defense (or lack thereof), they need him to be every bit as good as CC in order for them to make the playoffs.

      (Kenn-Nice first effort, “rookie”. ;)

  • Kenn

    After last night, the Brewers are now 9-4 in games that Greinke pitches. Not too shabby.

    That ERA is still pretty ugly, though, after getting shelled by the Yankees, Cubs and Pirates. Would like to see that ERA continue to drop as the season goes on…

    As BSM said, he’s probably going to have to pitch better (everyone will have to) if this team is going to make the playoffs.