Zack Greinke takes the mound for the Diamondbacks, which is good news for Arizona backers (and for those who bet this free sports pick) as the right-hander is 8-1 with a 2.02 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in sixteen career starts against the Padres. Greinke is also an incredible 4-1 with a 1.90 ERA in ten career starts at Petco Park.
I am generally pessimistic about Greinke after reports indicated that his velocity was down in spring training. Through three starts this season, the 33-year-old’s zone rate is down from 2016 (44.8% to 40.3%) and batters are chasing fewer of his out-of-the-zone pitches (35.1% to 27.1%).
Greinke is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA and 1.44 WHIP this season, but his underlying peripherals suggest a certain amount of bad luck. The veteran hurler has been victimized by variance with batted balls in play as evidenced by his .346 BABIP. Greinke’s strand rate is also down from his career average (70.8% compared to 74.7% career rate).
The former First Round Draft choice owns a 2.90 FIP and has done an excellent job suppressing home runs despite pitching in the sandbox otherwise known as Chase Field (0.54 HR/9 vs. 1.30 HR/9 in 2016). One glaring red flag, however, is the fact that Greinke’s hard contact rate has increased in each of the past four years (26.0%, 26.8%, 30.7% & 39.6%).
However, Greinke’s career success against the Padres, together with tonight’s venue (Petco Park) is enough to overlook his declining skill set. San Diego takes the field with a scuffling lineup that is averaging just 3.2 runs per game in 2017 (.282 OBP; .644 OPS), including 2.7 runs per game at night (.288 OBP; .667 OPS).
In contrast, Arizona is averaging 5.3 runs per game against right-handed starters and 5.4 runs per game at night. Those numbers should improve against San Diego starter Jhoulys Chacin, who toes the rubber with a 7.80 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in three starts this season.
The 29-year-old has struggled with his command (10.0% BB%) and his strikeout numbers are down from last year (7.44 K/9 to 6.0 K/9). The silver lining with Chacin is his ground ball rate (50.0% GB%) and the fact that he has been extremely unlucky with both batted balls in play (.340) and stranding runners (57.9% LOB%).
From a technical standpoint, Arizona is a profitable 10-2 in its last twelve games versus starting pitchers with a WHIP greater than 1.30, 7-2 in its last nine games versus right-handed starters, 6-2 in its last eight games following a win, 11-5 in its last sixteen affairs against division foes and 13-5 in its last eighteen games overall.
With Greinke on the mound, the Diamondbacks are 7-1 in their last eight road games versus teams with a losing record, 9-2 in their last eleven games against .499 or worse opposition and 10-4 in their last fourteen road games. Meanwhile, San Diego is a money-burning 0-5 in its last five games overall and 0-5 in its last five meetings with the Diamondbacks.
With Greinke standing at 48-14 (+27.6 units) versus National League teams averaging less than 4.0 runs per game in his career (team trend), take the Diamondbacks as Oskeim Sports’ Free MLB Sports Pick for Wednesday, April 19.
Oskeim Sports’ Free MLB Sports Pick: Arizona Diamondbacks (-117)