Great Lakes Royals

August 19, 2009 11:40 PM

Zack Greinke Gives up Homers, Royals Extend Jose Contreras' Career

Zack Greinke's performance in Chicago on Wednesday afternoon was not as spectacular as you'll ever see him, and it's about time to point out that Greinke's command of his pitches is simply not all that different right now than it has been for a majority of his career.  He's a guy with a strong home run tendency, and when he was at his most dominant earlier in the season, at his most unhittable, he was able to get two months into the season without giving up a homer.  It was a remarkable streak regardless of who the pitcher was, and an even more impressive streak for Greinke.

This is who Greinke is.  We've seen flashes of who he might become in the future: unquestionably the best pitcher in the AL.  In his current form, you might take Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, or Roy Halladay (but not Josh Beckett) over him.  He's a 3.30-2.80 ERA/xFIP guy who can completely take over a game when he offers you that rare, but fleeting command of the strike zone.  All those guys fit that profile.

Still, I would go to battle with Greinke over anyone else in the AL any and every day of the week, and his increasing ERA has more to do with the way his defense is victimizing him than anything else.  That was not the case today.  Greinke, when you consider that plenty have adjusted to him by hitting him early the count, is probably still the best strikeout pitcher in the AL.  But he's got an increasing walk rate, and a normalizing home run rate, and that combination is probably going to cost him a cy young.

It doesn't help that the Royals offense continues to give him no run support whatsoever.  There's no explaination for this anymore.  Sure, back in the small sample days, an argument like "the Royals are minimizing run production in an attempt to scratch across those 2-3 runs and improve win percentage" might have flown.  This is a bad offense, but Brian Bannister and Luke Hochevar can get run support.  Recently, even Gil Meche has gotten some help.  It's Greinke who almost never gets more than two runs from his team, and it just doesn't make any sense.  Jose Contreras is one of the very worst pitchers in the American League, and the Royals put five baserunners on off him in seven innings.  It's embarassing to be associated with these guys right now, but with Alex Gordon down in Omaha, there's not a 9 man lineup that can score a league average amount of runs, positioning be damned.

Take the 9 best hitters on the active roster:

1. Billy Butler
2. David DeJesus
3. Alberto Callaspo
4. Brayan Pena
5. Mark Teahen
6. Mike Jacobs
7. Miguel Olivo
8. John Buck
9. Yuniesky Betancourt

So even if you remove Josh Anderson, Willie Bloomquist, and Mitch Maier (your speed, but no hit guys), which you can't do because that will leave you with not enough outfielders, you can't make a league average offense out of the current guys.  You put Gordon in for Buck or Betancourt, and then you probably have something close to a league average lineup, but again, this is just pointing out how desperate the season has become where if you DIDN'T HAVE TO PLAY DEFENSE, there's still about 20-25 regular lineups in MLB who would outscore you.  This should never happen.

Of course, this team can't play defense anyway.

Hitter of game: David Dejesus

Pitcher of game: Zack Greinke

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