Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Is Zack Greinke Destined To Be A Bust In 2020?

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The Houston Astros surprisingly acquired Greinke at last year’s Trade Deadline, giving up a bevvy of top prospects to get the deal done. Overall it was a third straight strong season for Greinke (2.93 ERA, 0.98 WHIP), and it didn’t matter if he was in Arizona or Houston:

TeamIPERAWHIPK/9BB/9GB%
Diamondbacks146.02.900.958.321.2941.8%
Astros62.23.021.077.471.2952.4%

There wasn’t a significant change in his approach on the mound, though there was a minor one as he moved away from his fastball:

  • Fastball – 47.9% to 43.2%
  • Slider – 15.1% to 18.3%
  • Changeup – 21.5% to 23.5%

An even greater alteration could come over a full offseason, something we’ve seen from Houston pitchers in the past (though how much did the scandal impact the results we do not yet know). That brings us to the strikeout rate, which fell after his move to the American League. Overall his 10.5% SwStr% doesn’t flash above average strikeout stuff, though the new approach led to a spike in his SwStr%:

  • Diamondbacks – 10.1%
  • Astros – 11.2%

That would support a better strikeout rate, and his wide array of pitches and ability to get swings and misses on his curveball (Whiff% of 17.45%) further justifies it. While Greinke may never be a strikeout per inning pitcher, he should maintain a solid mark (8.22 K/9 for his career). That said would it be shocking if he doesn’t fully rebound pitching in the AL over a full season, especially at his age?

Granted the spike in his groundball rate doesn’t make sense. The owner of a career 44.1% mark, he’s never posted better than a 49.2% (and that was back in 2012). Home runs had been an issue throughout his time in Arizona, and while that wasn’t a problem in ’19 it’s something that could plague him in Houston.

His 36.2% Hard% isn’t horrific, especially compared to some of the other numbers around the league. That should help in terms of keeping the ball in the ballpark, and while he could post a HR/9 in the 1.25 range it won’t stop him from being productive. When coupled with the strikeout rate and elite control (2.00 BB/9 or better in five of the last six seasons), there’s a lot to like.

Does that make him worth drafting at his current price tag, however:

  • Current NFBC – 21st SP (Average ADP of 67.24)
  • Rotoprofessor Ranking – 24th SP

While the price may be slightly elevated, it’s not unreasonable. That said we’d prefer someone like Noah Syndergaard (71.06), Corey Kluber (98.60), Michael Soroka (105.96) or Carlos Carrasco (108.90), all of whom are ranked ahead of Greinke on our current rankings. While the package seems solid, there’s risk in his home run rate and the potential for his strikeout rate not to rebound. It’s fair value, but that doesn’t mean it’s good value.

Source – Fangraphs

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 preseason rankings:

PositionLast Updated
Catchers02/10/20
First Basemen02/13/20
Second Basemen02/18/20
Third Basemen02/21/20
Shortstops02/24/20
Outfielders03/06/20
Starting Pitchers03/09/20
Relief Pitchers03/03/20

3 COMMENTS

  1. I keep 7.

    I have:
    Bellinger
    Robles
    Merrifield
    Machado
    Clevenger
    Syndergaard
    Flaherty
    M.Olson
    Scherzer

    Can you help me pick 7? I am having a tough time picking them.

    • Bellinger
      Scherzer
      Flaherty
      Clevenger
      Syndergaard
      Robles
      Machado

      Merrifield is becoming an empty batting average guy. Olson is the worst version of Bellinger. I would rather have Machado who can get you 10+ SBs

    • How hard is it to get pitching in this league? My concern is keeping too many SP, which would lead me to grab Olson over Syndergaard (which is tough, because I love Syndergaard this season)

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