Right-hander Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks recorded a season-high 12 strikeouts against the Chicago White Sox.
The pattern is becoming as familiar as it is deadly to opponents. Since the start of the current season, right-hander Zack Greinke of the Arizona Diamondbacks appears to turn the clock back two years ago, and recent efforts rivaled his stunning results from the 2015 season.
With a strong 5-1 victory over the While Sox Monday night in Chase Field, Greinke improved to 6-2 and lowered his ERA to 2.92. More importantly, he lasted to within one out in the ninth for a complete game. When manager Torey Lovullo took out his ace with that one out remaining, he received the first, true negative reaction from the 18,333 in assembly in Chase Field. Coming within that one out of his 16th career whitewash, Greinke’s fast ball, though average in the low 90s, was pinpoint in his command of the strike zone.
Afterward, Greinke told Venom Strikes he seems to be locked into some sort of celestial orbit.
"In the last few starts, it hasn’t necessarily been one pitch or another. Yeah, the slider has been okay, but I’m locating my fastball."
That was an observation echoed by Lovullo. When asked about a comparison between Greinke of the 2015 season and Greinke so far this season, Lovullo hesitated. Admitting he was the Boston bench coach two years ago and in a galaxy far, far away from the National League West, Lovullo admitted he was struck by the Greinke’s numbers. Two years ago with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Greinke went a microscopic 19-3 season, and a 1.66 ERA for 32 starts.
Not that he will approach those numbers this season, Greinke noted to Venom Strikes a difference lays between two years ago and this season.
"I probably had more on my fast ball a few years ago but, this year, I have better location. Hitters seem to go after my curve more often and they have hit the curve."
Modest to a fault, Greinke’s strength of game these days is his command of the strike zone with secondary pitches. After the game Lovullo told Venom Strikes that a good off-speed delivery can clearly set up hitters, and Grienke, these days, seems to be a master in controlling all the strings.
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When your ace is shutting people down, Lovullo told Venom Strikes, that has a tendency to filter down the remaining members of the rotation. Of the current five starters, excluding Shelby Miller, out for the season with Tommy John surgery and Taijuan Walker, also on the DL with a blister, the combined efforts of Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray and Zack Godley, all have been effective in keeping the ball low in the strike zone and forbidden to opposing hitters.
In defining his number one pitcher and one who incorporates that role, Lovullo told Venom Strikes that Greinke is so well prepared that dynamic of his game rubs off to the other starters.
"(Greinke) is ready to take the mound every fifth day and when your number one starter embraces that role, everyone benefits. All players want to work behind him after that."
In defeating the Sox for their sixth win in their last seven games Monday night, Daniel Descalso slammed a three-run, two out homer in the bottom of the fourth to help pull Greinke to victory. Later, Paul Goldschmidt added his 11th bomb of the season leading off the sixth, and Jake Lamb, who was named the National League player-of-the-week for the period ending Sunday May 21, scored from third on a fielder’s choice play at the plate.
With Walker on the DL with that blister, Lovullo reached into his bullpen and pointed to right-hander Randall Delgado to start in Walker’s place. That will be Wednesday afternoon and Delgado faces Sox lefty Jose Quintana (2-5, 3.92 ERA). In 15 appearances, Delgado I 1-0 with a 4.05 ERA. In his seven games, Delgado has allowed one run and recorded 17 strikeouts for 14.1 innings.
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On Tuesday night, look for lefty Patrick Corbin (3-4, 4.38) takes on righty Dylan Covery (0-3, 7.64). In 2016, Covey, a 25-year-old out of Glendale, Calif., missed most of last season with a strained right oblique.