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Brushing Up On "Brushing Up On Zack Greinke"

Allow myself to quote...myself:

Greinke is one of those [guys with a big fastball]...with a fastball that he comfortably throws early in the count around 93-94.  Against RHB, he does fairly well.  It looks like "good" is less than a .250 ISO, but that's not exhaustive or anything, it's what I've noticed from doing like 15 of these or whatever the number is.  Anyway, it's an above average pitch that he has plus command of.  He misses the zone just 32% of the time, well below the 36% average.  In addition, with two strikes, he ramps it up to 95-96 and can get whiffs at about twice his average rate for all counts.  Being able to add and subtract, get key misses and throw strikes is about all you're looking for when it comes to the fastball. 

The curve is rarely used, but he likes to throw it early in the count, probably after fastballs to get a quick strike.  He has solid control, particularly for a curve. It isn't a swing-and-miss pitch, but he throws it rarely enough and early enough in the count that he can get poor contact. It is definitely not an out pitch, as he prefers the slider in 1-2, 0-2 counts, as well as the aforementioned fastball, elevated preferably.  The curve has a ton of horizontal movement, which makes me guess it's a bit slurvy rather than a true curve.  It also indicates that he throws from a lower arm slot, so lefties should have an easier time seeing the fastball.  The ISO backs this up (.317) and the BP card indicates he has a bigger split than average.

The slider is tough to get a grip on, as he gets more whiffs from lefties than righties, though when he's ahead, it's an effective out pitch for either.  He's not a huge strikeout pitcher, but the slider-fastball combo is about as good as Danks' curve-change routine, as they both get in the vicinity of 20% K/PA.  Even when he's not getting strike outs, he's still able to get effective results because his offspeed pitches all have relatively low ISO scores.  He may not yet (or perhaps ever) be an ace, but he's a very solid #2 along the lines of Johnny Danks.

AJ, Swish and Thome will be key tonight, as how they do against the slider and, certainly, the change will be important.  Again, like Danks, he goes away with the change up once ahead in the count and uses it to get those reaching, defensive swings that lead to double plays all the time for Johnny.  Danks' is better, but Greinke's is certainly effective and his slider is apparently quite the wipeout against lefties.

Swish has since departed, but lefties will remain key to the effort.  The replacement of his bat with Wise's has already been discussed ad nauseam, but the suckfest is not likely to get any better despite the platoon advantage.  This will be a pretty big test for Chris Getz as well, but one he's more likely to pass.  Greinke isn't homer proof, but without baserunners, the effort may well come up short.  Since Wise isn't likely to do it and I'm less than confident in our non-Thome homering abilities in April, this will also be a solid Q!pportunity.  Even if the going is rough, it's not like it'll be unexpected.  As good as he was in '08, Greinke may well be even better this year.  As MC Chris would say, he's one year older, one year wiser.  Joe Poz certainly sees the possibilities.  Fine tuning his breakout could be the thing that takes Greinke from very good to elite.