Houston Astros: Trend – Who’s Hot, Who’s Not (Vol 8)
It appears the honeymoon For Jake Meyers might be over (for now).
Meyers came on the scene heading almost .400 they come out with a bunch of timely hits and made us all forget about trading Myles Straw at the trade deadline. Heck there’s some argument that Jake Myers might end up being as good or even better than George Springer the way he was playing.
It seems that he’s cooled off and pitching Staffs have figured out how to approach him. Jake Myers is in a mini slump going 2-for-25 (.160 BA) with an OPS of .590 with a homer and four RBI and 11 SOs (40% SO rate).
Some of this might be attributed to him splitting time in the outfield with Chas McCormick and Jose Siri, which may be impacting his rhythm. But a lot of it is from teams doing their homework and learning: Don’t throw Jake Meyers a ton of fastballs in the zone. Pitchers are moving away from throwing him late-count fastballs (Meyers is hitting .360 BA, 5 HRs) and are sprinkling in more off-speed and breaking pitches (combined .127 BA).
Meyers is going through natural progressions that all new players face – hitter mashes, pitchers adjust, hitter struggles with adjustment, hitter improves, hitter mashes again.
I’m excited for what Jake Myers will be for this team over the long term. But I certainly didn’t expect him to hit .400 out the gate and anticipated some bumps like this.
OK. Let us talk about it — Zack Greinke has been bad. It’s not all that shocking since players falling off considering he’s almost 38-years-old. But it is shocking cause it is freaking Zack Greinke.
We’re talking about Greinke -the thinking man’s pitcher, the mad scientist on the mound, the guy with a plethora of weapons and skill to get him out of jams. This future hall-of-famer has (and to quote the great LL Cool J) been “doin’ it, doin’ it, doin’ it well” for years — but now he’s just not “doin’ it” now.
Greinke has given up 12 earned runs in his last two starts over nine innings. Both of those starts resulted in an unsavory-WHIP of .163 and an opponent batting average of .265 BA. That’s not going to get the job done in the postseason.
The Greinke repertoire just isn’t fooling hitters as much as in the past. Here’s some 2021 stats comparing his first time through the order with the second time through the order.
- first time through order – .229 AVG, .378 SLG, 2.76 ERA, 50 SO, 7 HR, 16 BB, 19% SO rate
- second time through order – .267 AVG, .449 SLG, 3.92 ERA, 43 SO, 13 HR, 16 BB, 16% SO rate
And teams have figured out how to approach him before games. Here are his second half stats:
- first time through order – .265 AVG, .495 SLG, 5.23 ERA, 32 SO, 13 HR, 13 BB, 15% SO rate
More alarming stats. Greinke has always been a solid second half of the season pitcher – This is not the case this season – Greinke is allowing a .265 opponent batting average (career-high), a 2.2 home runs per nine innings (career high) and 5.4 strikeout per nine innings (career-low).
Some of the genius from Greinke does is his ability to get easy outs from generating soft contact. Greinke has generating 21% soft contact on hits his entire career – an elite-level clip in the league. This season? 10.7% – easily the lowest of his career. The next closest season was 14.9% when he was pitching with the Diamondbacks.
In the history of baseball, pitchers who relied on skill and not velocity tend to fall off slowly and then quickly. Greinke is already over 3,000 career innings and is about to turn 38-years-old.
Many have called Zack Greinke this generation’s version of Greg Maddux – a guy with one-in-a-lifetime skill and pitch repertoire. Greg Maddux’s age 36 season was one of his best — he threw a 2.62 ERA and went 16-6 en-route to winning another Gold Glove. However, in Maddux’s age 37 and 38 seasons is where his play took a nosedive. During those two seasons, Maddux combined for a 4.00 ERA (well below his 2.75 average) and started giving up nine hits per nine and was only generating 5.1 strikeouts per nine innings. Maddux still played up until he was 42, but he never got back to those elite sub-3.00 ERA levels he was at in his late 20s and mid-30s.
Greinke has not looked good for the last couple of months, it’s likely that his days of constant dominance are over. But Zack Greinke is also been a great postseason pitcher and always rises to the occasion (Game 7 of 2019 World Series – sorry to remind everyone).
So, if this is his indeed his last hurrah with the Astros, I’d like to think that he’ll dig down deep and find his form in the playoffs. I wouldn’t expect him to morph back into Cy Young Winner Zack Greinke. But The closer he can get to say the 2019-version of Greinke (and further away he can get from August-and-September-2021 Greinke) the better it’ll be for Houston.