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Saturday, September 24, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL STATUS REPORT: ZACK GREINKE SP ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS



While they certainly made a supreme effort to buy their way into contention for the 2016 baseball season, pretty much nothing went right for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Right at the top of the setback list was the at times ghastly performance of ace starting pitcher Zack Greinke.  The same Grienke whom the D-Backs earned a whole bunch of ridicule for after signing him to a ridiculous six-year contract worth $206.5 million.  Instead of purchasing a pitcher they believed could front their rotation and help them reach the postseason, the D-Backs instead got a 4.37 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, and a year pockmarked by injury setbacks.  Greinke never looked comfortable for an extended stretch in his first go round in the desert and his season as a whole was disturbing on a number of levels.  For starters, Greinke had THREE months where his ERA was 5.50!!!! or above and he also missed the whole month of July with a left oblique strain.  Putting a topper on the whole mess,  Greinke was not able to finish out the month of September after developing shoulder soreness.  All of this from the same pitcher who was arguably the most dominant starter in all of baseball the year prior when he registered a 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, and 200 strikeouts.  So how could things go from one extreme to the other in just one year?  Well when digging into the numbers, some ugly truths emerge.  Let us first start out by saying that 2016 marked the fourth straight season where Greinke saw his average fastball velocity decrease.  Once a 97-mph dynamo with the heater while with the Kansas City Royals, Greinke is now barely in the 90-91 range.  We are talking Jered Weaver or C.C. Sabathia here in terms of fastball decline and that alone has made Greinke so much more hittable that ever before.  In addition, Greinke went from one extreme to the other when it came to home ballpark.  Dodger Stadium has for years been one of the best pitcher parks in the game, while Chase Field in Arizona has been known as a home run haven.  Chase Field is a bad marriage for a pitcher whose fastball is betraying him and who even in his best days, gave up home runs are a high rate.  Thus it was no shock to see Greinke’s HR/9 rate soar to 1.30 and his hit rate jump up as well.  Also while Greinke’s control was solid, his BB/9 rate went from 2015’s 1.62 to 2016’s 2.33 which added some more baserunners for him to deal with.  Finally, the erosion of Greinke’s fastball has cut down his margin of error in that he no longer can escape trouble as often with the strikeout.  After putting up a dominant 9.21 K/9 rate in 2014 with the Dodgers, the last two years have seen that number dip dramatically.  In 2015 Greinke lost more than ONE K/9 as he posted an 8.08 mark there and last season was even worse at a very mediocre 7.60.  With the league average around 7.50, Greinke is nothing more than a middling K pitcher right now and that further adds to all the trouble.  In fact it is staggering how badly things have turned here and almost completely across the board in all categories.  Add in the ugly recent health and Greinke is a guy I wouldn’t go near for 2017 fantasy baseball.  That should be obvious. 

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