Houston Astros

Zack Greinke’s lackluster Astros debut is no cause for concern

Zack Greinke did not pitch particularly well in his Astros debut, but it’s hardly a cause for panic.

When the Houston Astros pulled off the move of this MLB trade deadline last week, getting Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks, it was easy to book them as the World Series favorite. Then Greinke made his debut for the Astros Tuesday night.

Greinke went six innings against the Colorado Rockies at Minute Maid Park, allowing five runs on seven hits with two strikeouts and two walks. A reversal by the official scorer turned an initial error into a hit, and made two earned runs into the final charged tally of five. On his 99 pitches, just 56 went for strikes with just six swinging strikes after seven straight starts with double-digit swinging strikes.

It’s worth noting that Greinke induces a high level of swings outside the strike zone (35.3 percent this season, even after Tuesday night). He strikes out enough batters despite not having knockout fastball velocity (8.1 K/9 this year), while walking few (1.4 BB/9 this year) with an above average ground ball rate (42.3 percent this season).

The Rockies are also plenty familiar with Greinke, having faced him three times this year with the Diamondbacks. In those three previous outings Greinke had a 3.60 ERA with 15 strikeouts and zero walks and 21 hits allowed over 20 innings.

The Astros scored 11 runs, spread from the second through seventh innings, to get Greinke the win on Tuesday night. Via Matt Kelly of MLB.com, Greinke cited boredom as a factor in his performance.

Yeah, it’s kind of boring,” said Greinke, after Houston’s four home runs gave him extended time in the dugout en route to helping him earn an 11-6 win in his Astros debut. “And just trying to stay loose, staying focused [when] not having anything to do.

Greinke shouldn’t have been subject to nerves, at age 35 with now 438 starts over parts of 16 Major League seasons with six teams. But he’s been traded up to an offense that’s top-five in the American League in runs scored, OPS, home runs and walks.

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So as long as he can overcome the boredom of waiting in the duguout for ample run support, with his comments from Tuesday night almost surely rooted in sarcasm, better outings are coming.

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