It certainly appears 2016 was an outlier as even with that tumultuous campaign, Zack Greinke's 2.93 ERA over the past three seasons is fourth best among starters with at least 500 innings pitched. The primary reason for Greinke's bounce-back season was a sharp increase in strikeout rate (9.6 K/9), supported by a career-best swinging strike rate (12.4 percent). Greinke's velocity dropped a tick while his overall pitch mix was fundamentally the same. He threw fewer first-pitch strikes, also throwing fewer overall strikes. Perhaps it was sequencing or just confidence after spending a year in the desert, but Greinke's change and slider were much better pitches his second season with the Diamondbacks. He's still a fantasy ace, but at 34, with a lot of mileage on his arm, it's best to expect a give-back in terms of strikeouts. Though, with the humidor installed at Chase Field, any ERA correction from fewer whiffs should be mitigated with a subsequent drop in homers.
Greinke's home park, Chase Field, will install a humidor prior to the 2018 season, which should result in a drop in home runs, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. The installation of a humidor had long been rumored and has finally been confirmed. The device is used to store baseballs, causing them to absorb water and become less bouncy. Physics professor Alan Nathan estimates that the use of a humidor at Chase Field could decrease home runs by at least 25 percent. That would be good news for Greinke, who gave up 15 home runs at home last season. Greinke's price should rise a bit due to this news in anticipation of a slight boost to his ERA.
Greinke lasted 3.2 innings and didn't factor into the decision in the Diamondbacks' 11-8 win over the Rockies on Wednesday in the National League wild-card game. He gave up four runs on six hits and a walk while striking out one batter in the 58-pitch outing. Staked to a 6-0 lead after cruising through the first three frames, Greinke appeared poised to put the game away for the Diamondbacks without much worry, but he completely unraveled in the top of the fourth to let the Rockies back in the contest. He allowed five of the first seven batters of the inning to reach base and allowed all but one to score before Andrew Chafin came out of the bullpen to put out the fire. Fortunately for the Diamondbacks, Greinke's poor outing didn't cost them the win, but the team's confidence in the ace might be a bit shaken heading into a divisional-round matchup with the Dodgers. Over his last three appearances, Greinke has covered 11.2 innings and has surrendered 14 runs on 21 hits and five walks.
Greinke (17-7) was the pitcher of record in the Diamondbacks' 2-1 loss to the Royals on Friday. He went four innings and was tagged for two runs on six hits and two walks while striking out four batters. Making his fourth career start against the team that drafted him in 2002, Greinke was limited to 75 pitches in his final outing of the regular season, despite not laboring too badly when he was pulled in the fourth inning. The ace's early departure was a pre-planned move by manager Torey Lovullo, who wanted to keep Greinke on his normal pitching schedule while not overextending him in advance of a starting assignment Oct. 4 in the Diamondbacks' matchup against either the Rockies or Brewers. Greinke will finish the 2017 campaign with a 3.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 215 strikeouts in 202.1 innings, which should help him earn some down-ballot votes for the National League Cy Young Award.
Greinke, who was previously listed as the Diamondbacks' starter for Wednesday's game against the Giants, will instead make his final start of the regular season Friday against the Royals, Jody Jackson of FOX Sports Arizona reports. Manager Torey Lovullo's decision to move Greinke back in the rotation will give the right-hander six days of rest heading into the Friday outing, but keep him on his normal four days of rest before he takes the hill Oct. 4 in the Diamondbacks' wild-card matchup with the Rockies, Brewers or Cardinals. It's expected that Jeff Mathis (hand), who had served as Greinke's personal catcher before landing on the 10-day disabled list in August, will be activated over the weekend and be behind the plate for that wild-card contest. Lovullo has declined to name a starter for Wednesday's game following the choice to move Greinke's turn back a couple of days.
Greinke got tagged for eight runs on nine hits -- including three home runs -- and two walks over four innings Friday while striking out three, but he didn't factor into the decision in a 13-11 win over the Marlins. It was Greinke's worst outing of the year, snapping a streak of five straight quality starts for the veteran righty. He'll try to shake it off and build some momentum for the playoffs in his final start of the regular season Wednesday at home against the Giants, who he's dominated in 2017 with a 1.83 ERA and 16:3 K:BB over three starts and 19.2 innings.