Ahead of last night’s NLCS Game Five tilt, Parkes highlighted a spirited Twitter debate —spurred by Jeff Passan’s brave assault on self-awareness—over the relative culpability of one Donald Zachery Greinke.
The stats suggested Greinke’s performances were far better than his results let on. Others observed something not quite the same in Greinke’s lights-out assortment of pitches; wondering if he had a much greater hand his own demise than Fielding Independent Pitching statistics indicate.
The oft-discussed porous Brewers defense dominated the game stories after they punt, pass, and kicked themselves right out of a pivotal playoff game. The timing of the errors and misplays directly led to runs and the glorious “earned run” category makes Greinke look like an innocent victim.
There is very little innocence in Greinke’s performance. He was bad last night. He played with fire and got badly burned.
Last night served as a great reminder of what happens when the “pitch to contact” idioms comes to life. There is so much left to chance. Balls find holes or, when
Gianfranco Zola Yuniesky Betancourt is playing shortstop, they create their own. Greinke missed a grand total of two bats last night, a far cry from the sixteen of his NLDS start against the Diamondbacks and even the eight swinging strikes he coaxed in Game One against these very same Cardinals.
Two whiffs and zero strikeouts, not the kind of stuff you expect from the starter with the best K-BB differential in the Major League Baseball.
Greinke simply looked terrible last night. He seemed unable to find the zone at the best of times, continually missing away as he struggled to command his slider. His manager Ron Roenicke went to bat for him in the post-game scrums, as transcribed by Brew Crew Ball:
Yeah, Zack threw the ball well. I know he didn’t get the strikeouts but he still only should’ve given up one run if we make the plays for him. So I like the way he threw it, his fastball was good today. His breaking ball, he couldn’t get it down in the dirt when he wanted to get one down he couldn’t bounce it and that hurt him, but I thought he threw the ball well.
Greinke made some odd post-game comments which suggest an unusual change in strategy pre-game.
“The slider wasn’t very sharp at all today,” he said. “I kind of wanted to get it up a little more and get some weak contact with it. I did that pretty good. But whenever I needed to get it down, I had some trouble doing that.”
Umm, Zack. Next time, just trust your stuff to get you out. Weak contact is all well and good, especially for a guy recently plagued by the gopher balls. Your love of FIP and the like is well known but the strikeout part of those equations…kind of the most important part.
The Brewers lost because they played bad defense behind a struggling pitcher. A starter unable to do the things that make him one of the best starters in baseball, placing him at the mercy of the luck dragons and stone-fisted defenders positioned diamond-wide. There is no solace for Greinke and the Brewers when they head home to fight for their playoff lives. The guilt can and should be distributed evenly among the entire team, pitcher with an in-game FIP of 4.68 included.