2017 Rating: 8.72
2018 Rating: 8.04
2018 Performance: 33 starts, 207.2 IP, 3.21 ERA/135 ERA+, 3.70 FIP, 4.2 bWAR, 3.5 fWAR
2018 Salary: $34 Million
2019 Status: Signed through the 2021 season, owed $34.5 million next season
Zack Greinke is arguably one of the best pitchers to ever wear either the Teal and Purple or the Sedona Red. Zack Greinke is also paid like he is one of the best pitchers to ever wear either of those colors. This fact causes much consternation among a very vocal group of fans, and it has lead to many debates on this fine site of ours and will only lead to more as we continue through this Offseason of Uncertainty.
I believe he was worth it, and Exhibit A is the fact he is ranked number five on our season ranking. Beyond that, he was a well above average anchor for a starting rotation that desperately needed it at a price that wasn’t too far off of what I suspect would be market value for him right now.
The month of April, including a single game in March, was wildly inconsistent. Three of his starts he gave up two runs or less. In his other three starts, he gave up no less than four. As we all know, the team worked around that, going on to put together one of the best months in franchise history.
After that rocky start to the season, he started to look more and more like the Greinke that we were all were excited to have join the team when he was signed back in the offseason of 2015 and the Greinke we grew accustomed too in 2017. He strung together three straight starts where he only gave up one run, and though that was followed by a less than stellar four run outing, he finished the month with another strong outing, bringing his ERA for the season down to a respectable 3.65.
He continued that trend of lowering his ERA even further over the next couple months of the season, consistently going out, keeping the opposing teams in check, and giving the Diamondbacks a chance to win, even if they failed to capitalize on that with any regularity. He reached a season low 2.93 on August 26th, which also coincided with approximately the last time I thought the Diamondbacks had a real shot at winning the division.
Going hand in hand with his run prevention is how many innings he did it over. He only had two starts that went less than five full innings, and he only had five more that went less than six, for an average of 6.1 IP per start. In a season where the bullpen’s exhaustion played a huge roll in the final outcome, you simply can’t overstate the importance of the consistency he brought to the mound every five days. That’s one of the key rolls of a TOR pitcher. They have to be able to go out there every start and give every aspect of the team the best shot at success, including taking pressure off of the bullpen as much as possible. Greinke did just that.
The outlook for his 2019 season is both clear and murky. It seems reasonable to expect roughly the same output and results from him next season, barring injury. While a decline could be expected given his age, nothing has really indicated that’s coming, as he once again stayed right around his career norms in almost every statistic. Reasonably, he should be right about the same next year, as long as he continues to be able to work around his decrease velocity on the fastball.
What’s murky, however, is what team he will be doing it for. Much like Paul Goldschmidt before him, rumors have been swirling all off season that Hazen and Co. are interested in the possibility of shipping him and a large portion of his salary off to a contending team that can put him to better use in exchange for more years of control, hopefully shoring the team for a future window of contention. What happens, no one can say for sure, but it seems reasonable to assume that the fate of Greinke will determine once and for all the path this offseason is going to take