Zack Greinke is Back.




In case you haven’t noticed, Zack Greinke has turned it around.

Greinke turned in another good start on Wednesday night despite not having his best stuff, striking out eight Dodgers over 7 innings, with his only blemish being a solo home run surrendered to Tony Gwynn.

It took awhile to crawl out of the hole he dug himself into early in the year when he was still building up arm strength. His Brewers debut in Atlanta was lackluster, and while he did have some nice early-season outings (2 ER, 9 K vs. San Diego and 3 ER, 10 vs. Washington within his first 5 starts, for example), a couple of bad outings kept his ERA looking ugly for awhile. The lowpoint was his 2-inning start in New York against the Yankees, when he was shelled for seven runs on five hits and three walks. That start ballooned his ERA to 5.63, and there were quite a few people ready to call the Greinke trade a mistake and calling him a headcase, among other things.

Since that point, though, things have improved — perhaps more than any of us could have imagined.

Heading into Wednesday night, Greinke was carrying a 2.24 ERA since that disaster start in the Bronx. In his first start following the blowup, Greinke allowed four earned runs against the Twins. Since then, he’s gone on a streak of eight straight starts (counting Wednesday) of allowing two earned runs or less. It’s a run that has his season ERA down to 3.92, which is much more in line with what most fans were expecting.

It’s safe to say he’s finally up to speed. This is the guy the Brewers thought they were getting, and it makes you wonder where the Brewers would be if he was healthy from the start.

Of course, earned runs aren’t a perfect way to illustrate Greinke’s performance this year. For the most part, he hasn’t changed the way he’s pitched all year; he’s just getting better results now, which is what many predicted when things weren’t going so well. Take a look at his lines from this season. With the ER removed from the line, could you tell which ones were the good starts, and which were the bad?

5/4 4 IP 5 H 1 BB 6 K
5/9 6 IP 5 H 0 BB 9 K
5/15 5 IP 6 H 1 BB 5 K
5/20 6 IP 8 H 0 BB 9 K
5/25 7 IP 5 H 1 BB 10 K
5/31 6 IP 6 H 3 BB 6 K
6/6 7 IP 7 H 1 BB 6 K
6/11 7 IP 7 H 0 BB 9 K
6/16 5.1 IP 8 H 2 BB 10 K
6/21 7 IP 4 H 0 BB 10 K
6/28 2 IP 5 H 3 BB 0 K
7/3 6 IP 5 H 2 BB 9 K
7/8 6 IP 6 H 2 BB 10 K
7/16 6 IP 5 H 2 BB 8 K
7/21 7 IP 5 H 0 BB 7 K
7/27 6.2 IP 3 H 3 BB 9 K
8/1 6 IP 7 H 1 BB 5 K
8/7 7 IP 4 H 3 BB 6 K
8/12 7.2 IP 6 H 1 BB 9 K
8/17 7 IP 5 H 3 BB 8 K

If there’s a difference in his starts now compared to his early-season outings, it’s that his mistakes are less likely to be of the multi-run variety. I spilled a lot of digital ink talking about BABIP and Line Drive rate when Greinke was struggling, and during this hot streak of his, those numbers have improved. From the July 3 start in Minnesota through his August 12 start against Pittsburgh, Greinke’s BABIP was .287 — much more normal than the .356 clip balls were falling in at against him from May 4 to June 28. Furthermore, during this streak, his LD% has been at 17%, down from 27% to start the year.

Early this season, Greinke was getting some incredible run support. While the Brewers are 19-2 in their last 21 games, that run support has dried up in the latter parts of that stretch. That makes Greinke’s performance lately (and really, the performance of the entire rotation) even bigger. A few blowups here and there, and the Brewers aren’t 7 games up on the Cardinals with 38 to play.

Quantcast