Zack Greinke’s elbow a ‘creeping concern’ for Dodgers as his command deteriorates

The Dodgers are concerned about Zack Greinke‘s elbow.

Panic yet? I’m getting there.

In an article about Ned Colletti‘s history of waiver wire pickups, Ken Gurnick seemingly buried the lede by including info regarding the potential for a Greinke elbow issue to prop up in terms of it relating to the current rotation problems.

Nonetheless, already this month Colletti has shored up the suddenly vulnerable starting rotation with Roberto Hernandez and Kevin Correia, who have made three solid starts. Those were triggered by injuries to Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu, as well as creeping concern over Zack Greinke’s elbow.

“Creeping concern.” Yikes.

But going back through articles on Greinke, apparently it’s been an issue for a while now. For instance, after his Friday start, his arm health was also alluded to.

Greinke, who confirmed his arm hasn’t been strong in recent starts, said he felt “really strong” in this game, confirmed by velocity readings of 95 mph.

“I’m starting to feel better, now I hope I start pitching better,” he said. “It’s been a month-and-a-half tough stretch against good teams and good offenses. I’ve been trying to keep it together and not get out of whack.”

Maybe this is a constant issue with Greinke so it’s of minimal concern, and hence the lack of headline news, but it’s a bit worrying since he also started last year with inflammation in his elbow during Spring Training.

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Armed with the knowledge of potential arm issues, I went to look for potential warning signs but generally came up empty.

On the velocity front, Greinke is taking steps forward more than regressing.

ZackGreinkeElbowVelocity

The horizontal and vertical movement of his pitches are virtually identical, so nothing there either. And his release point doesn’t show anything that one can point to as a tell-tale sign.

ZackGreinkeElbowHorizontal

ZackGreinkeElbowVertical

Furthermore, just by watching him pitch, it’s hard to notice anything mechanical going on.

But he has struggled a bit recently, giving up nine runs in 13 innings during his first two August starts, before pitching five shutout innings on Friday but walking five.

Throughout all three starts, his command seemed to be an issue. If you go back and watch, he never seems comfortable with his fine command in the strike zone (chastising himself after pitches), and indeed there does appear to be a sudden uptick in Greinke missing in the middle of the zone this month.

ZackGreinkeElbowCommand

So what does it mean? I honestly don’t know.

There’s no evidence that he’s pitching with some type of serious underlying elbow problem, but his command has definitely been wonky recently. That could indicate something serious or it could be a sample size issue, there’s no real way to know at the moment. The main takeaway from this news dropping is that now we definitely have something to monitor during his starts from here on out.

About Chad Moriyama

Chad Moriyama

I get paid millions by the Dodgers.

MILLIONS!