You drafted Zack Greinke(notes) to be your staff ace but right now he's the reason you're pulling your hair out. He's only got one win through 13 starts, and every stat he's contributed to your bottom line is worse than what you, or anyone, projected back in March.
Let's separate some fact from fiction with the 2010 Greinke file. He's been ridiculously unlucky when it comes to Kansas City's offensive support – of the 105 pitchers who have logged 60 or more innings in 2010, Greinke currently ranks 99th in run support. The Royals haven't scored a single run while Greinke has been in the game over his last four starts. The 1-8 record is patently unfair. The Royals defense is a problem as well, albeit it's much trickier to get a perfect statistical evaluation on that.
Okay, so the Royals don't hit for Greinke and the defense could be a lot better. But that doesn't mean Greinke is without blame for his messy start. He's been rather ordinary on the mound in 2010; yes, a regression from the 2009 dream season was an easy call, but he's fallen more than anyone expected. He's striking out over two batters fewer per nine innings and his HR/FB rate has climbed back to 9.0 percent (a reasonable number) after last year's minuscule 4.5 percent. Greinke's FIP (3.91) and xFIP (4.18) are in the neighborhood of his real, and mediocre, ERA (4.05). His strand rate has fallen to 71 percent, but that's not a crazy outlier.
There's another way to conclude that Greinke's stuff hasn't been as sharp this year – look at the plate discipline stats against him (courtesy of the irreplaceable Fangraphs.com). Swinging strikes have fallen to 5.8 percent against Greinke and batters are making more contact against him than ever (86.7 percent). We could blame some of this on a one mph dip in fastball velocity, or perhaps it's a command issue – Greinke's still throwing strikes, but not getting the ball precisely where he wants it. Manager Ned Yost, for one, supports that theory.
"His stuff is still great, he's throwing the ball fine," Yost said after Greinke allowed six runs to the Twins on Tuesday. "His command has just been a little streaky for him lately."
We could spend a week spinning the quotes and analyzing and debating the stats under the hood, but let's get down to brass tacks – what should fantasy owners do going forward? Sell low? Buy low? Wait for an uptick, and then shop him around? Delete the Royals from your games-to-watch queue? (Is it time to dump your fantasy teams and spend the rest of the summer watching Saved by the Bell reruns? At least their Zack has a more reliable supporting cast, no matter what you make of Screech).
If Greinke turns things around in June, it's going to come against the National League: his next three turns are slated for the Reds (fourth in the majors in runs scored), Braves (sixth) and Cardinals (15th). The White Sox lie in wait at the end of the month.
Let's band together on this. It's time to rank and price Greinke for the rest of the way. Let's try to make sense of this story.