The Impact of Zack Greinke On The Dodger Pitching Staff


The other day I wrote this post, mostly out of frustration. At the time it appeared that Zack Greinke had preferred the Rangers over the Dodgers. Sources were reporting that the Dodger’s front office were pessimistic about their chances to sign Greinke, and that Greinke really liked the Rangers and their chances of winning. It seemed from what sources were saying, that Greinke was probably going to sign with the Rangers.

How much of an Impact will Birdman have on the Dodger Pitching staff? 147 million dollars worth.-Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

So when we see stuff like this come out of Ned Colletti’s mouth, you can understand why we thought that Greinke was going to choose the Rangers.

"“We’re not on the front lawn. … We’re barely out of the car at the curb. It’s better than driving around the neighborhood looking for the house. We know where the house is located. We just can’t seem to get out of the car.”"

That’s what Colletti said when asked if he was close to signing Greinke. Whatever that meant. This was reported two days ago. So I admit I was frustrated that the talks were dragging out as long as they did, at the Dodger’s expense. So if you would like to call me an idiot in the comments, go ahead. I’m sorry for posting that article, but hey that’s the hot stove for you.

Today I want to talk to you about the impact of Zack Greinke on the Dodger’s pitching staff. Now that the deal is done, we can take a look at him by the numbers and see how huge of an impact he will have on the Dodger’s rotation. Here’s a hint, it’s pretty big.

Greinke is 29 years old, and originally from Orlando Florida. He’s a right handed pitcher with nine seasons of Major league experience. He was first called up to the majors on May 22, 2004 with the Kansas City Royals. The Birdman actually battled anxiety early in his career, and as a result struggled during his first few seasons. In 2004 he was 8-11 with a 3.97 ERA, with 100 whiffs, and 26 walks. The following year he lost 17 games and posted an ERA of 5.80, although he still put up impressive strikeout numbers.

Greinke didn’t have his breakthrough year until 2008. During the 2008 season, Greinke finished 13-10 with a 3.47 ERA. He whiffed 183 in 202 innings, and walked only 56. The following season in 2009, he won the AL Cy Young award, while with the Royals. That season he finished 16-8 with a league leading 2.16 ERA, 242 whiffs, 51 walks in 229.1 innings pitched. Greinke has recorded four 200+ inning seasons, and three 200+ strikeout seasons.

Greinke is by definition a power pitcher. He has a career 8.0 whiff per nine rate, and once led the league with a 10.5 whiff per nine rate, which was during his 2011 season while with the Brewers. What makes him such a good pitcher is his amazing strikeout to walk numbers. His career walk per nine rate is only 2.1. Now if you take a look at his strikeout to walk ratios, they’re very good. Most seasons they’re around 4:1, and his career strikeout to walk ratio is 3.5:1.

Greinke’s splits are pretty decent as well, and as expected he’s tougher on right handers than lefties. Left handers are hitting .272 with a .759 OPS, while right handers are hitting .244 with a .665 OPS.

Generally speaking Greinke’s best month is April, where he has posted a career 2.40 ERA, and limited opposing batters to a .665 OPS. June and July are his worst months, as he has posted ERAs above 4.50 in each month. But he turns it up in September, which is his second best month, with a 2.94 ERA, 22 wins, and a .243 BAA. Greinke also does well at keeping the ball in the park. After serving up 26 home runs during his rookie season of 2004, and 23 in 2005, he only has had one season afterwards where he allowed more than 20 long balls. Which means his career home run per nine rate is 0.9, which is pretty good.

When Greinke gets two strikes on batters, he normally gets them out. When he has two strikes in the count hitters are only hitting .166 off of him. He’s only pitched one game at Dodger stadium in his career, which he won. Greinke has six pitches he uses. He throws a two-seamer, four-seamer, a cutter around 87-91 MPH, an 82-86 slider, slow curveball, and changeup. Greinke tends to use his two-seamer, and slider more often to righties, but his changeup is only used against left handers. His slider appears to be his strongest pitch. Hitters are only hitting .154 against his slider, which allows him to induce a lot of ground balls.

A lot of people are asking if he’s really worth all of the money he’s being paid. I believe he is. Let’s check out how his career numbers compare to Clayton Kershaw’s.

Kershaw- 61-37 2.79 ERA BB/9 3.3 SO/9 9.3 WHIP 1.137 H/9 7.0

Greinke-91-78 3.77 ERA BB/9 2.3 SO/9 8.0 WHIP 1.247 H/9 8.9

As you can see, Kershaw has a much lower ERA, and WHIP, but they’re strikeout to walk numbers are very similar. Kershaw does strikeout more, but Greinke has a better strikeout to walk ratio. However Kershaw allows far less hits.

As you can see Greinke is a very good pitcher. Is he better than Kershaw? No way. Regardless he is still a very tough pitcher. He strikes out a lot of hitters, and rarely gives up walks. His pitching mechanics are top notch, he keeps the ball in the park, and he uses his slider to induce a ton of ground balls. Not bad when your number two starter is a former Cy Young winner. Greinke may look like a bird, and have an eccentric personality, but he pitches like a Cy Young winner. His addition to the Dodger’s pitching staff should make an immediate impact. He’s good, and that’s why the Dodgers signed him.