Diamondbacks News

Arizona Diamondbacks: Plan is to push Zack Greinke’s final regular season start

By Joseph Jacquez
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 22: Marcell Ozuna #13 of the Miami Marlins rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run off of Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning at Chase Field on September 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. It was Ozunas second home run of the game. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 22: Marcell Ozuna #13 of the Miami Marlins rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run off of Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning at Chase Field on September 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. It was Ozunas second home run of the game. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images) /
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A  decision on who will start the wild card game has been made

In what should not come as a surprise move, Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo informed the media that Zack Greinke would likely start the 2017 N.L. Wild Card Game.

Kill all the “speculation” and the “debate.”

The play-in game, by virtue of Diamondbacks win Sunday against the Miami Marlins, will take place at Chase Field on Oct. 4 at a to be determined time. The Diamondbacks clinched a postseason spot because the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals lost, but the Diamondbacks needed a win to wrap up home field advantage yesterday.

Yes, Greinke struggled in his most recent outing, and struggled might be putting his performance mildly. The right hander gave up eight earned runs in four innings of work, including three home runs, his velocity was down, and he hung fastballs and slider right over the heart of the plate.

So, did the start create some cause for concern? Sure it did. But even the greatest athletes have occasional performances that can only be described as clunkers. Greinke’s reaction after he departed said it all – this guy cares more than most and will right the ship.

The 33-year old has been dynamite all season long. Besides the occasional bump in the bruise, Greinke has been dynamite for this team all season long. He has redeemed last season woes.

Despite his pour outing against the Marlins, Greinke still has pitched to a 3.81 ERA in September, and more importantly, a 0.92 WHIP.

Other than a rough August (4.00 ERA in six starts) Greinke has consistently pitched deep and given his team a chance to win. If you combine Greinke’s June and July, he pitched to a 2.41 ERA (17 earned runs/64.0 innings pitched).

Greinke’s ability to generate swings and misses and locate on the corners and away from the middle of the plate has defined his bounce back campaign.

This decision makes sense for a couple of reasons.

First, Greinke has pitched well at home. In 18 starts at “hitter friendly” Chase Field this season, Greinke is 13-1 with a 2.87 ERA (37 earned runs in 116.0 innings pitched). Even though he surrendered 15 of his 24 home runs at Chase, a low ERA suggests he has limited the damage to mostly solo shots.

This week’s games will determine Greinke’s opponent.

The 2009 American League CY Young Award winner has held the Rockies in 2017, who hold a two-game lead for the second wild card spot entering Monday, to 13 earned runs (six home runs) in 34.1 innings (3.41 ERA, five starts).

Greinke has given up only seven earned runs in three home starts against Colorado.

In his only start against the Brewers, who are two games back of Colorado, Greinke got roughed up. But that outing came at Miller Park.

Greinke faced the Cardinals, who are two-and-a-half games back, once and gave up one earned run seven innings. That start did occur in St. Louis.

But, Greinke’s overall home success and confidence at Chase Field should be there, regardless of opponent.

In nine career postseason starts, Greinke owns a 3.55 ERA, nine earned runs in 58.1 innings pitched, with an average of about six innings per start.

In addition to naming Greinke his “probable starter,” Lovullo said they have considered pushing back Greinke’s final start of the regular season to this Friday in Kansas City.

Extra rest should help Greinke, who has already thrown 30 more innings this season (198.0) compared to last season (158.0).

It could also be a good idea to have Greinke on a pitch or innings limit. For example, 80-85 pitches or six to seven innings, which ever comes first. That way he has no excuses come playoff time.

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