Dugout Digest: Zack Greinke Likes The NL

DugoutDigest

Ever since coming of the DL at the beginning of May, Zack Greinke has been fantastic for the Brewers. His 4.69 ERA doesn’t look at all impressive, but it belies how well he’s pitched. He picked up his 6th win of the season yesterday (versus just one loss), with a quality start against St. Louis.

In 48 innings, Greinke has struck out 60 batters – that’s 11.3 K/9, which is the highest rate in the majors (min. 40 IP). He’s walking nobody – the 1.3 BB/9 isn’t the lowest in the majors, but it’s mighty close. With his fastball velocity down a tick this season (not that NL batters have had a ton of success catching up to it), Greinke has gone to the breaking-balls more often. When batters have swung at his slider this year, they’ve come up empty around 37% of the time. With the curve (which is the offering that’s seen the greatest increase in usage), they’re whiffing about 42% of the time.

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With numbers like that, how does Greinke have an ERA approaching 5? Well, he’s given up a lot of hits. It’s not easy to give up more than a hit per inning when you’re striking batters out left and right, but the balls that are being put into play are tending to fall for hits (.344 BABIP). Plus, though Greinke is by no means a groundball pitcher, the 1.1 HR/9 he’s allowed is likely higher than what we’d expect going forward – it’s higher than his seasonal mark every year since 2006.

It would not be at all surprising to see Greinke post a sub-3 ERA from here on out, which might not be enough to catch up in the Cy Young race (especially given the missed time), but could be enough to help carry the Brew Crew to the playoffs.

Also last night: Curtis Granderson tied Jose Buatista for the major league lead with his 20th home runs; Boston crushed the Blue Jays, so much so that we saw a position player on the mound; the Reds touched up Tim Lincecum, while Mike Leake pitched eight scoreless; and much more.

What to watch tonight: Shaun Marcum tries to pitch the Brewers into first place in the NL Central, facing off against the Cardinals; Jordan Zimmermann and Tim Stauffer face off in San Diego – they’ve quietly been two of the NL’s better starters this year; Ubaldo Jimenez tries to stay on a roll for Colorado, giving up just 2 runs in his last 16 IP (with 15 K’s). Full schedule with probable pitchers here.

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