Astros News

Astros: Zack Greinke sustains success through evolution

WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Zack Greinke #21 of the Houston Astros in action against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training baseball game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Tigers 2-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
WEST PALM BEACH, FL - MARCH 09: Zack Greinke #21 of the Houston Astros in action against the Detroit Tigers during a spring training baseball game at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on March 9, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Astros defeated the Tigers 2-1. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /
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KANSAS CITY, MO – SEPTEMBER 15: Pitcher Zack Greinke #23 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Angels 3-2. (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO – SEPTEMBER 15: Pitcher Zack Greinke #23 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals defeated the Angels 3-2. (Photo by Tim Umphrey/Getty Images) /

Pitch Usage

In 2009, Greinke only used his changeup 6.2 percent of the time, making it his fifth most-used pitch. It wasn’t effective that year either, as batters hit .364 off it. His curve was his fourth most-used offering, coming in at 12 percent of the time, but batters hit .338 off it.

That’s a stark contrast to 2019. Greinke’s changeup was his second-most used pitch at 21.9 percent of the time, and it was effective to the tune of a .194 batting average against. He used his curve 14.6 percent of the time and it was his most effective pitch, as batters only hit .140 off it.

By contrast, the slider was his most effective pitch for many years. He threw it 22.1 percent of the time in 2009, and hitters hit only .138 against it. He threw it 16.1 percent of the time in 2019 and wasn’t happy with the results, as hitters hit .308 off it.

The use of his four-seamer has dropped only marginally despite the decreased velocity. He threw it 45 percent of the time in 2009 and 40.9 percent in 2019. The sinker was used 14.6 percent of the time in 2009 and just 5.3 percent in 2019. Judging by the results, that last number should probably go down even farther.

In recent seasons, Greinke has occasionally flashed an eephus pitch. It’s sometimes hard to distinguish from his curve, and it might just be a slower version of it. He threw the eephus 0.9 percent of the time in 2019 at an average of 63.5 mph, and batters couldn’t manage a single hit against it.

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