I never ever wanted to write a negative word about Zack Greinke and hoped that time would never come, but unfortunately it has. Let's do it.
BREWERS STARTERS WITH ERA OVER 5.50 (Last 5 years)
- Manny Parra 6.36 (2009)
- David Bush 6.38 (2009)
- Zack Greinke 5.66 (2011)
That's it. That's the whole list.
Now I know what you're thinking "Jesus, 2009 sucked" and my god did it ever. Hopefully you're also thinking "WTF IS ZACK GREINKE DOING THERE!?" 2009 was awful, but I would argue that 2011 could end up being a whole lot worse if Zack Greinke doesn't get his act together. He doesn't belong on this list, but that's how he has played thus far this season and he has sucked.
"but.. but.. he's had terrible luck! His xFIP proves it!"
"And he's winning games! He's 7-3!"
"Look at his BABIP, it's really high it will even out over time! And his LOB% is low!"
Shut up. Stop making excuses for him and shut up. You sound like an abused girlfriend who won't stop insisting that your boyfriend, Green Bay Packers cornerback Brandon Underwood, is really a good guy once you get to know him. Zack Greinke has been a huge disappointment, a much bigger disappointment than Casey McGehee, and it's time everyone admitted it.
Zack Greinke has amazing stuff which he has shown throughout the season. He has three seperate 10-strikeout games which is awesome, but still his ERA sits at a level higher than even Jeff Suppan ever achieved. So what gives?
Basically, Zack Greinke loses his damn mind when runners get on base, loses it a litle bit more when they get into scoring position and then he gives up three run homeruns.
Dig a little bit deeper and you'll find that Zack Greinke is getting hit. Hard. While Zack's high batting average on balls in play and low left on base percentage might explain some of his struggles they don't explain the fact that his line drive percentage is way up and a higher percentage of his flyballs are leaving the park. Advanced stats can attempt to explain away why he's been struggling, but this isn't a case of too many bloop singles falling in and skewering things. This is a case of Zack Greinke being hit hard.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of baseball can clearly see that Zack struggles the most when there are runners on. Now whether this has to do with him simply not being a good pitcher in the stretch, a lack of concentration, bad luck or something else I couldn't tell you. What I can tell you is it doesn't always look like he cares and coming from a guy who admitted to lack of effort in the past, that's a problem.
I hate to comment on what people "look" like they are doing. JD Drew has been hated his entire career because he didn't "look" like he cared, but one look at his career numbers and you wish you had a guy like him on your team. Meanwhile, a guy like Craig Counsell definitely "looks" like he cares but that doesn't make up for his lack of talent. I think that whatever it "looks" like a player has very little correlation to what a player is actually doing. So please understand that I hate that accusation when I say that it doesn't look like Zack Greinke is giving it his all.
Have you ever watched Randy Wolf pitch? Like, really watched him? Every single pitch is life and death to him. Every close call on the corner of the strike zone kills him. His life exists only for that moment. Compare that to Zack Greinke who looks fine until that moment when you can practically see the light bulb turn on in his head and he takes it to that whole other level where nobody can hope to hit him. It's those few beautiful moments that drive me crazy. I've seen what Zack Greinke could be, I've seen what he could do for the Brewers and it's fantastic. So why doesn't he do it all the time?
Zack Greinke is an amazing pitcher with amazing stuff so maybe every pitch doesn't have to be life and death to him. I realize that he can't get everyone out every time, but it'd be nice if he tried to. Did he try to get every single batter out the season he won the Cy Young? I'm not asking for that season again because that was a once-in-a-lifetime type of season that will likely never happen again in Zack's career (and people should remember that), but it'd be nice to see him flip that switch during the first pitch of the game instead of the 80th.
To quote Hoosiers "If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don't care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we're gonna be winners."