Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Los Angeles Dodgers starter Zack Greinke has been one of the best pitchers in fantasy baseball this season, going 5-0 with a 2.04 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in 35 1/3 innings.
Here's what we know about him:
1) He's a former Cy Young Award winner
Greinke won the award in the AL in 2009 by going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP and 242 strikeouts in 229 1/3 innings.
2) He hasn't returned to those heights
Greinke won an average of 14 games per season from 2010-13, but he had an ERA of 3.56, a WHIP of 1.19 and a K/9 of 8.4 during that timeframe. Still very good, but not close to his peak year.
3) Fantasy owners have continued to buy him as an ace
Greinke has been more James Shields than Felix Hernandez since his Cy Young season, but fantasy owners have continued to draft him for his 2009 numbers. This preseason, he went 13th among starting pitchers on average (per ADP data on fantasypros.com).
4) He has good timing
Greinke has allowed six homers this season, but all of them were solo shots. In fact, his last 10 and 14 of his last 15 homers allowed came with no one on base.
5) He's frequently underperformed sabermetrics
Greinke had a lower FIP than ERA in each season from 2010-12. In that span, his FIP was 3.16 but his ERA was 3.83. This disparity was due to some terrible batted-ball luck with men on base and in scoring position.
6) Since the start of 2013, his luck has flipped.
In his last 34 starts, Greinke has gone 20-4 with a 3.23 FIP and a 2.54 ERA. Homers allowed have a large impact on FIP, so his 3.26 FIP this season is skewed by his 1.53 HR/9. But as I mentioned, all six of the home runs were solo shots. If he continues to post an 11.72 K/9 and a 1.53 BB/9, his ERA should remain below 3.00 regardless of how many homers he gives up.
7) He's suffered some freak injuries in his career
In 2011, Greinke suffered a cracked rib on his left side while playing pickup basketball. Last year, he sustained a fractured left collarbone after he lowered his shoulder to take on a charging Carlos Quentin following a hit-by- pitch. And just a few pitches into his first Cactus League start this season, Greinke strained his right calf. The injury forced him to miss Los Angeles' season-opening series in Australia against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The right- hander also sat out all but 6 1/3 innings in 2006 due to social anxiety disorder.
8) His slider and changeup have been outstanding this season
Greinke's slider has always been one of his top strikeout pitches, but this year he's getting batters to chase the pitch more than ever. He's also turned his changeup into a sneaky weapon, inducing a swing on a career-high 52.6 percent of the changeups he throws out of the zone. Prior to this year, Greinke had recorded 34 strikeouts with his changeup in his entire career. This year, he already has seven Ks with it. Greinke also has been painting the corners with his fastball and picked up 16 strikeouts with the pitch. His swing-and- miss rate is a career-high 11.4 percent.
9) He's terminated his road woes so far
For his career, Greinke is 65-32 with a 3.26 ERA at home and 46-50 with a 4.00 ERA on the road. In 2014, however, he's started off 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA away from Dodgers Stadium.
10) Some regression should be expected
Greinke isn't going to strand 97.9 percent of his baserunners all season like he has so far. He's allowed a BABIP of .188 with runners in scoring position.
11) His real first name is Donald; Zackary is his middle name
Unless watching "Mad Men" has made you believe the name Donald automatically makes people more successful, there's no fantasy knowledge to be gained from this; I just thought it was interesting.