Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke just went out and utterly handcuffed the defending World Series champions. He was so masterful throughout that pretty much no negative could be drawn from the magnificent outing. Greinke worked seven innings, allowing only three baserunners (all singles) while striking out seven. This was against the exact same Cardinals lineup that knocked Brewers ace Yovani Gallardo around the yard one day earlier.
Harbinger of things to come? It very well could be.
Advanced metric indicators show Greinke was pretty unlucky last season in terms of ERA. The batting average on balls in play against him was .318, with the league average usually hovering around .300. Greinke's FIP -- Fielding Independent Pitching, which attempts to better measure ERA by removing things the pitcher cannot control from the equation -- was 2.98 while his ERA was 3.83. That kind of vast separation nearly always indicates a course correction is forthcoming.
There's also the comfort factor. Greinke didn't even make a start until May 4 last season, as he recovered from an offseason pickup basketball injury. It was his first season in Milwaukee after being acquired in a blockbuster trade. So it was a bit of a rough beginning, even though Greinke still went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA and an MLB-best K-rate (10.5 K/9). He's capable of better, too. Don't forget that Greinke was the most dominant pitcher in baseball in 2009 (2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 242 strikeouts in 229 1/3 inning), winning the AL Cy Young.
Yes, it's only one game and he'll have over 30 more starts (if he stays healthy, obviously), but there's a reason I picked him to win the NL Cy Young, and it wasn't simply a hunch. Keep your eye on Greinke. He's in for a huge season.
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