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  • The Twins Would Be Wise to Avoid Signing Zack Greinke


    Lucas Seehafer PT

    The universe is littered with white dwarfs, the remnants of stars similar to that of our sun. These stars burned steadily for eons, fusing hydrogen into helium and expelling unmeasurable amounts of heat and light into the vacuum of space. However, over time, the stars swelled to many times their original size as their reservoir of hydrogen atoms ran dry. They eventually expelled their out layers of plasma, relatively quickly, on a universal scale, becoming but a husk of their former selves.

    Well, perhaps such is also the case with Zack Greinke.

     

    Image courtesy of Paul Rutherford, USA Today Sports

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    Zack Greinke — a six-time All-Star and the 2009 AL Cy Young recipient — will be among the marquee names in free agency following the conclusion of the World Series, along with the likes of Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer. However, there’s a catch: the soon-to-be 38-year-old is coming off arguably the worst season of his illustrious 18-year career. 

    Greinke has a deep repertoire of pitches, though he primarily relies on a four-pitch mix consisting of a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. Statistically speaking, the changeup — his second-most utilized in each of the past four seasons — is his best offering as opposing hitters have mustered a batting average above .200 against it only once since 2018 (.205 this past summer). 

    His changeup sits in the mid-80s and features devastating tailing action against left-handed batters with an average spin rate of 1,594 RPM. Opponents have consistently whiffed at approximately 30% of Greinke’s changeups over the years.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum sits his four-seam fastball. Over the past two seasons — in which he has struck out 187 batters in 238 innings to go along with an ERA over 4.00 — Greinke’s fastball has been lit up by opposing batters to the tune of a .280 batting average, a slugging percentage north of .500, and 17 home runs. 

    This past season, Greinke’s “fast” ball sat 89 mph with an average location of middle-middle.

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    Additionally, the effectiveness of his curveball and slider has dropped off significantly over the past two seasons, which, when combined with his lackluster fastball, ultimately led Greinke to post a scanty 17.2% strikeout rate in 2021, his worst since 2005 (13.8%).

    Greinke’s strikeout rate was only one of the lackluster stats the former ace put up this past summer: a 98 ERA- (worst since 2016); 3.33 K%-BB% (worst since 2016); 4.16 ERA (worst since (2016); 171 innings pitched (worst since 2016); 4.71 FIP (worst since 2006); 17.4% home run per fly ball ratio (worst of his career).

    In short, Greinke’s performance over the last two seasons reinforces the notion that he is no longer ZACK GREINKE and is now more akin to a third or even fourth starter. (His numbers aren’t all that dissimilar to that of Michael Pineda.)

    The Minnesota Twins have only two starting rotation spots — Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan — locked in for the 2022 season and will undoubtedly be active in the starting pitcher market, both in free agency and via trades. However, signing Greinke, even on a one-year deal, makes little sense. His age and recent performance suggest that a continued downward trend should be expected next summer, and he’ll likely command more money than a pitcher of equal or greater talent, such as Pineda. 

    The Twins would be wise to look elsewhere in search of a top of the rotation starter.

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    Greinke is likely less interested in the Twins than the other way. He has had an amazing career and has forged his own path every step of the way. Zack Greinke is nearing the end of a fantastic career, still managing to pitch a ton of innings and leave his team in a position to win nearly every game. He may retire if the Astros win the World Series. He also might just want to keep playing baseball and sign for a lesser contract.

    Your post is correct - Greinke is not a TOR pitcher any longer but rather a back of the rotation innings guy. This year he pitched 171 innings. Your post was well done and accurately points out how Greinke has declined in effectiveness. Nevertheless, Greinke holds a special place as a former opponent with Kansas City and while we should not look to sign him for 2022, he can still be productive as a #4/#5 pitcher for 150 innings on another team. 

    Thank you for the complete analysis at what Zack Greinke might  look like going forward. I just wanted to acknowledge what a special player he has been for baseball.

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    Greenie will play where it interests him to play. If hew wants to play here for a year,, great..

    In actual results for the league pitching an ERA of 4.16 and 171 innings is a respectable mid rotation pitcher. 

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    He will most definitely want to play for an NL team if the NL does not adopt the DH. Never bet against Greinke. If he doesn't retire, he'll still be a valuable arm next year for some contender. 

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    He will be too expensive for the Twins even if he is on a downward trend in performance. Besides, I agree with a few others who have posted he will NOT be interested in coming to Minnesota. If the Twins are going to be serious about competing they need to get away from signing pitchers in decline and start signing pitchers who are on the rise. All these years hoping to catch lightning in a bottle for that 1 magical season that an aging star pitcher can light it up 1 more time should not be a strategy or path that they should go down again. Live and learn......... please!

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    We might aim higher but at the end of the day he sounds a hell of a lot better than guys like Happ, Shoemaker, Albers, Hill, Wisler, Bailey, Martin Perez, Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee.  Do I need to go on?  Cuz I can.........

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    If he is likely to offer any mentoring value, i'd be happy to have him.

     

    But that is just me. I still think he is a consummate pitcher. I enjoyed watching him in game 7 against the Nationals almost 2 years ago, where there was none of this "i'm hiding my grip in my glove as that could indicate what i am throwing." He used the same grip on every pitch. 

     

    Anyway, we'll see soon enough where he goes...

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    21 hours ago, sampleSizeOfOne said:

    If he is likely to offer any mentoring value, i'd be happy to have him.

     

    But that is just me. I still think he is a consummate pitcher. I enjoyed watching him in game 7 against the Nationals almost 2 years ago, where there was none of this "i'm hiding my grip in my glove as that could indicate what i am throwing." He used the same grip on every pitch. 

     

    Anyway, we'll see soon enough where he goes...

    One of the worst decisions to pull a pitcher I've witnessed. He would have pitched nine innings in that game and probably not given up another run.

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    When Grienke was at his peak he had a no trade to the Twins clause in his contract. Other teams too, but he refused to wave that clause as the Twins tried to trade for him. I don't think the Twins really need to try to sign an old pitcher on an otherwise young team.

     

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