Arizona Diamondbacks: Zack Greinke Still Going Strong at 34

Starting pitcher Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Starting pitcher Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

Zack Greinke is almost halfway through his massive six-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and he is still performing at a high level at the age of 34.

The Arizona Diamondbacks took a huge risk in signing a 32-year old Zack Greinke to a six-year contract before the 2016 season. Now, three seasons into the behemoth deal, Greinke is still productive and shows few signs of slowing down.

It can be debated all day whether or not Greinke, or any pitcher for that matter, is worth the $34 million a year the D-backs paid him for each of the last three seasons, or if he will come close to earning the $105.5 million still due through 2021, but he is still a top ten National League pitcher, even at the age of 34.

Greinke is set to make 34 starts this season, and historically, he has been someone who consistently takes the ball every fifth day. Since 2008, he’s made 26 or more starts every season, and 2018 will be the eighth time in that timeframe he topped 32 or more starts.

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He also has 14 wins, making it the eleventh straight campaign he has done that. While wins are almost random at this point in baseball, Greinke’s ability to keep the opponents from scoring does place him in a good position to still earn plenty of wins.

His 3.20 ERA ranks ninth among NL starts, and sparkling 1.07 ranks him fifth. He is slotted at seventh in strikeouts with 187, and he could finish with 200 or more for the seventh time.

His Wins Above Replacement sits at 3.2, according to Fangraphs, which ranks him 11th among NL starters. Baseball-Reference figures his WAR at 4.0. Whichever number you like, he’s still among the best at his craft.

While his strikeout rate per nine innings is down almost a whole K/9 from 2017 (9.56 to 8.66), his walk rate per nine innings and his strikeout to walk ratio for this season are among some of the best of his career. His control, which has always been good (2.15 BB/9 for his career), is elite. He is ranked second in BB/9 for 2018.

The one negative is that he has surrendered a career-high 28 home runs this year and his Home Run per nine innings ratio is an unsightly 1.3, well above his career average of .9.

Greinke has always presented a strong bat for a pitcher, and that hasn’t changed; he’s hitting .233 this season.

There is little to indicate Zack Greinke is slowing down as he approaches 35 years old. Hopefully, he can finish off his last three starts of the season with good performances and be ready to contribute in a similar fashion going into the last three years of his monster contract.

Due to a September swoon, the Diamonds probably won’t make it into the postseason, but maybe next season Greinke can lead this team back into the playoffs with another fine season.

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Once players hit their mid-thirties, their performance level can start to deteriorate rapidly at times.  Zack Greinke looks fine, seems to be in great condition, and shows few signs of slowing down, but his arm has a lot of mileage on it. He has thrown nearly 2,600 innings, the fifth most of any pitcher since he entered the Majors in 2004.

At some point, he is going to slow down. The Diamondbacks hope he still has three more great years in him.