Friday, August 3, 2012
Greinke's slider key to success
By Kenton Wong, ESPN Stats & Information
Today, the Halos' big trade-deadline acquisition gets his first road start with the club against the AL Central leading Chicago White Sox. He’ll be asked to get the team back on track after they dropped the last two games of a dramatic series in Texas.
Zack Greinke’s home winning streak was snapped at 19 in his Los Angeles Angels debut last week, but he pitched very well -- allowing two runs in seven innings while striking out eight.
As dominant as Greinke has been in home starts this season with a 2.56 ERA and .205 opponent’s BA, he has been pedestrian on the road (4.09 ERA, .294 Opp BA). Some of those struggles can be chalked up to bad luck -- an extremely high road BABIP of .366 compared to .281 in his home starts.
Highest Road BABIP For Starters This Season
Erik Bedard .372
Zack Greinke .366
Tim Lincecum .364
Derek Lowe .358
Despite stumbling on the road at times this season, the Angels’ righty has all the tools to succeed wherever he pitches.
Greinke possesses a wide variety of pitches, but his slider -- which sits around 83 mph -- is his finisher. Of his 130 strikeouts this season, 61 have come on sliders. Nearly half of opponents' swings against Greinke’s slider have come up empty (49.3%). The only qualified starter with a higher miss rate on sliders is the Washington Nationals’ Edwin Jackson at 51.9%.
It’s one thing to have plenty of pitches in your arsenal. What makes Greinke exceptional is his Greg Maddux-like control. He shows an uncanny ability to nail the corners low-and-away. His aforementioned slider almost always ends up below the zone at the time it crosses the plate.
Despite staying on the fringe of the strike zone, Greinke’s 5.5 percent walk rate ranks in the top 20 among starters this season.
He’ll definitely want to miss the bats of the White Sox who have won seven of their last nine overall and 10 of their last 11 games at home.
Greinke will need to overcome is his ugly history at US Cellular Field. He’s 2-7 with a 5.49 ERA and has given up 13 homers in 59 innings. Those 13 homers mark the most he’s given up in a ballpark that he’s never called home.
Of course if the Angels lineup can keep scoring 10 runs a game like they did in Texas, Greinke should have more than enough room for error.