Diamondbacks Realigned Rotation Allows Greinke Time to Heal

PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 09: Starting pitcher Zack Greinke
PHOENIX, AZ - OCTOBER 09: Starting pitcher Zack Greinke /

Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke will not start the season’s first game for Arizona. While the headline may sound alarms for some, the D-backs don’t seem too concerned with their realigned rotation. In fact, quirks of the schedule could be used to the team’s advantage.

Zack Greinke is unavailable on Opening Day for the Diamondbacks, however, the news is not as horrible as it sounds.

So far, it just looks like Mr. Greinke is being nagged by a cantankerous bit of connective tissue in the general groin area. But with Opening Day only nine days away, the D-backs craftily shuffled their deck of starting pitchers to more perfectly align Greinke for a long, play-off extended run this year.

With Greinke scheduled to pitch another preseason game this Wednesday, he’s on track to pitch  March 31st in game three of the season opening series against Colorado. Most likely limited by an imposed pitch-count opening weekend, Greinke would only be relied on to get the game started and go as deep as his body, management, and trainers will allow.

Then on April 6th, five days after what should be Greinke’s first regular season start, Arizona’s schedule graces them with one of several off-days scattered throughout the beginning of the month. Presumably, this day off will allow the D-backs to get creative with their rotation alignment.

Because of his spring velocity issues and now the groin tightness, Greinke could benefit from being rested. Skipping his turn in the Diamondbacks’ rotation that gameless date would tentatively line up Greinke to start on the road in San Francisco on April 11th. He’d be well rested after potentially more than a week without live game action. Even then, the D-backs could choose to continue to limit his pitches against the Giants.

Or the Diamondbacks may choose to let him loose on San Fran without the safety net of a pitch-count. Greinke owns a lifetime 5-0 record and 1.37 ERA at AT&T park.

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Should Greinke pitch against the Giants on April 11th as I have speculated, yet another off-day comes up five days after that presumed start. Arizona could potentially get a chance early in the season to pass over Greinke once more.

In essence, by limiting the number of pitches Zack Greinke has to throw in the first month of their season, the Diamondbacks are extending his Spring Training. The realigned rotation gives Greinke a better chance to stay healthy for what Arizona envisions as the beginning of a lengthy season extending deep into the playoffs.

As an added bonus, the altered rotation alignment keeps Greinke from having to face the Dodgers twice in the fist two weeks of the season. With last year’s playoff defeat to LA still stinging, keeping the Dodgers from too many early looks at Greinke could have its benefits later in the season and possibly in October.

The Arizona starting rotation needed to be realigned because of Zack Greinke’s groin tightness. But maybe by creatively scheduling his every-fifth-day routine to land on their sporadic days off, the Diamondbacks have found a way to conserve Greinke’s highly compensated right arm for what stands to be a marathon season.

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Although not starting on Opening Day, Zack Greinke is still supposed to take the mound later in Arizona’s home-opening weekend series against the Colorado Rockies. With the benefit of conveniently scheduled off-days, the Diamondbacks are cautiously easing their ace back into the rotation.