To be frank, it’s incredible what Zack Greinke has been able to do as his career has progressed. Prior to the shortened 2020 season, he had won double-digit games in 12 straight seasons, including nine with at least 200 regular season innings. His fastball velocity is dwindling, but he has continued to refine his arsenal while maintaining elite command. He isn’t a major source of strikeouts, but he isn’t expected to do so, but the hope is that he can strikeout somewhere near one batter per inning. He posted an even 9.00 K/9 in 2020 after a combined 8.34 K/9 mark between the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The veteran right-hander is a junk ball specialist that relies on pinpoint precision and inducing weak contact

It’s no secret that as Greinke has gotten older his four-seam fastball is a far cry from what it used to be. To hammer home the point, and make the graph resonate more, I have removed all other pitches, to only highlight his fastball. Remember when Greinke used to be a mid-90’s guy? I hardly remember that version of Greinke!

The saying goes, “when one door closes, another opens.” Well, for pitchers in Major League Baseball it’s more like: “when one door closes, another one better open, and quick.” Greinke has adapted and relied on an elite changeup and curveball that is rarely hit for hard contact to make up for his declining four-seamer.

He hasn’t given up on his four-seamer by any means, but you can see that the changeup and curveball are becoming more prevalent in his arsenal by the year. His changeup is downright nasty and gives batters fits. In 2020, it posted a whiff rate of 46.2 percent! In 2019, per Baseball Savant’s run value metric, Greinke had the fourth-best changeup in baseball, highlighted by a 27.8 percent whiff rate and .194 batting average against. His changeup lived on the edge of the zone, mainly in the bottom-third, and generated more whiffs both in and out of the zone.

His second most lethal pitch, his curveball, has been a menace to opposing hitters. In the past four years, the highest batting average against this pitch was .222, which was back in 2017. His illustrious floating curveball gives opposing batters fits.

Besides just his curveball and changeup, most of his arsenal does a great job at minimizing hard contact. His 86.8 mph average exit velocity was his lowest in recent memory, and ranked in the 77th percentile during the 2020 season. In fact, his average exit velocity has ranked in at least the 70th percentile in both 2019 and 2020, and in at least the 60th percentile in five of the last six.

The crafty veteran has elite command and has posted a sub-2.00 BB/9 mark in three straight years, highlighted by last year’s career best 1.21 mark. Also, a 3.3 percent walk rate is phenomenal and that was good for the third-lowest mark in all of baseball in 2020. Since 2018, he’s posted the fourth-lowest walk rate at 4.3% of all qualified pitchers. However, he’s the only one of the four to throw at least 385 innings pitched. Oh, Greinkehas thrown 483.1 innings in that span, making his elite walk rate even more impressive.


Walk Rate

Innings Pitched

Mike Leake



Miles Mikolas



Hyun-Jin Ryu



Zack Greinke



Courtesy of FanGraphs

Greinke is currently the 39th pitcher (34th starter) off the board, per NFBC data, and he’s nestled in a sweet spot for pitching. His upside is capped in this current stage of the career, but there is safety in security and Greinke is as stable as they come. He’s consistent, durable and he’s the epitome of knowing exactly what you’re getting when selecting him for your fantasy baseball squad.

If you want upside, you might be looking elsewhere around Greinke, notably Jesús Luzardo , DinelsonLamet or Greinke’s teammate Lance McCullers, but if you want a safe option for your SP2 or SP3, you can’t go wrong with Greinke. He’s going to give you plenty of innings, should post a win total in the low teens and come close to striking out a batter per inning, all while posting an earned run average in the mid-to-high three’s.


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