Astros: Zack Greinke sustains success through evolution
Now that we’ve looked at all the numbers, what do they mean in the grand scheme of things? If you want to boil it all down to one statement, it’s that despite decreased velocity, Greinke has remained effective thanks to increased movement on his pitches.
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He’s also cut down on the free passes, which limits the amount of baserunners he allows. He’s going to give up his share of hits since he doesn’t have the ability to blow his fastball by hitters any longer, and the lack of difference in velocity between his fastballs and his changeup may induce more contact since hitters can time them better.
But the increased break means the contact he does induce will typically be of the soft variety. We saw this in his brilliant start for the Astros in Game Seven of the World Series when he did just that against the Nationals hitters. Add in the fact that he’s a superior defensive player and you’ve got the makings of someone who can keep hitters off balance and eat innings.
The most accurate adjective to describe Greinke at this point in his career is “crafty.” He’s not quite the Greg Maddux type, who used superior command to paint the corners and fool hitters. He’s the type who’ll throw several different pitches and make it difficult for hitters to guess what’s coming or get the barrel to the ball.
Since he’s evolved into the crafty type who doesn’t rely on velocity, he should continue to age relatively well. As long as he’s healthy and can locate his pitches, he should be able to get hitters out at this level.
This is important as the Astros have him under contract for two more seasons. If he continues to be effective, it could be worth re-signing him beyond that to watch him chase some important milestones and continue to be a veteran example to the club’s young pitchers.