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What to Expect From Zack Greinke on the Diamondbacks


The third ace-caliber pitcher has been snatched up this week, with the Arizona Diamondbacks signing Zack Greinke to a six-year deal worth $206 million. The deal was first reported by Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. This comes after Jordan Zimmermann and David Price were also locked up this week by the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox, respectively.

For Greinke, 32, this marks his departure from Los Angeles where he spent his last three years with the Dodgers and the back end of 2012 with the Angels. Greinke, who opted out of the remaining three years he had left in his six-year contract with the Dodgers, chose to become a free agent at the right time in his career.

His 19 wins in 2015 are the highest of his career, and he led the National League with a 1.66 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. These are Cy Young quality numers, but he was ultimately edged out for the honor by the CubsJake Arrieta. With Greinke's fastball velocity plateauing at an average of 91.8 MPH in the past two seasons, now was perhaps his last chance for a huge contract before Father Time begins to catch up with the 11-year veteran.

What is also interesting about Greinke signing with another National League team is his usefulness at the plate. In 2015, the Major League batting average for pitchers was .129, along with a .156 OBP and .162 SLG. However for Greinke, he slashed way above that, ending the year going .224/.232/.343. In his time with the Dodgers he has also managed to hit three home runs, drive in seven runs, draw 13 walks and even steal three bases. While he certainly was not given such as massive contract because of his above average abilities as a hitting pitcher, he is not the easy out that so many big money pitchers have become these days (looking at you Jon Lester and your .041 career batting average.)

Greinke will be joining a Diamondbacks rotation that was in need of a high level starting pitcher. In 2015, their starting staff consisted of Rubby de la Rosa, Chase Anderson, Jeremy Hellickson, Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Josh Collmenter and Archie Bradley.

De la Rosa, Anderson and Hellickson all had ERA’s of 4.30 or higher and are nothing more than depth for the back of the rotation. Ray and Bradley are both young and unproven in the majors, with Ray only having two years of experience and Bradley managing only eight starts while balancing stints on the disabled list and ineffectiveness throughout the season. Collmenter has been relegated to the bullpen and did not project to be in the rotation in 2016 even before the Greinke signing. Corbin, while showing potential early in his career, has still not pitched a full season following 2013 Tommy John Surgery.

Greinke's fantasy value shouldn't be hurt by his new ball club. Pitching was the club's downfall in 2015, and the Diamondbacks have retained their most important position players. The team was eighth in runs scored last season - second behind only the Coors Field fueled Rockies in the National League. Arizona also had the sixth best defensive production per FanGraphs. Chase Field is a downgrade from Dodgers Stadium, but the superior supporting staff should help to make up for a few extra home runs.

With this big signing, the Diamondbacks have taken another step towards contention in the always competitive NL West. The Dodgers have taken a big step back, losing one half of the best 1-2 punch in baseball behind Clayton Kershaw. The Giants regressed following their 2014 World Series title and have their own hole in the rotation that needs to be filled. The Padres and Rockies each finished below .500 and need to do some rebuilding before they are able to contend again.

This seems like a good time to be a Diamondbacks fan. They could be a dark horse to steal a Wild Card spot and even contend for the NL West title in 2016 and beyond.

 

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