Tonight, Zack Greinke makes his fourth start for the Dodgers this season. So far, he has pitched very well, only allowing five runs in 16-1/3 innings. his peripherals have been very interesting. In his first three starts, he’s struck out 21 batters and walked just two. Both walks came in his first start of the year; he’s faced 50 batters (and struck out 17 of them) since he allowed his last walk.
Greinke’s FIP is higher than you’d expect (4.03, above the league average), since he’s given up four home runs. However, the high home run rate isn’t because Greinke is throwing more pitches in the strike zone. So far this season, he’s thrown 41.2% of his pitches into the Pitch F/X strike zone, almost identical to his 2012 and 2013 rates. The biggest peripheral difference is that Greinke is inducing a lot more swings on pitches outside of the strike zone (38.6%, compared to a career rate of 26.8%), and batters are making contact less often overall (71% contact rate this season, career rate is 79.5%).
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Greinke’s high home run rate seems a bit like luck, and stats that adjust for it love what he has done so far. xFIP adjusts Greinke’s HR/FB rate from 30.8% down to the league average (around 11%), which results in a stellar value of 1.94. After adjusting for park, his xFIP is third in baseball, behind Masahiro Tanaka and Felix Hernandez. Since his line drive rate is down and his ground ball rate is up, his SIERA (which uses batted ball characteristics to estimate ERA) is 2.02, which is also third best in the majors behind the same pitchers.
In lineup news, Hanley Ramirez is alive! Given how bad the injury looked when it happened, it’s pretty amazing that he missed just one game. Hopefully the medical staff isn’t rushing him back before he’s ready, but for once it feels like the team was lucky on a potential injury. This allows the Dodgers to re-establish the second base platoon, so Dee Gordon gets the night off against lefty Wade Miley. Greinke’s last two games have been caught by Drew Butera, but tonight Tim Federowicz starts in his place.
On the Diamondbacks side, Cody Ross returns from the disabled list and gets the start in left field. Ross dislocated his hip last year. Mark Trumbo gets the night off (and has gone 3-for-36 in the past week).
Below, you’ll notice the return of a feature that was present on Mike’s old site: the bullpen usage chart. You can also find it here. Many thanks to reader/commenter ABSmileBunch for maintaining the chart!
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