Who would have ever thought at this time last year Zack Greinke would be starting opening day for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016? I’ll be the first to admit it, if you gave me 10 tries I still would have been wrong. But after signing a six-year, $206.5 million dollar deal, Greinke will be taking the mound in Game 1 of 162 for the D-backs. Yesterday, while on MLB Network Radio, manager Chip Hale dropped the news. It is going to be a huge year for Arizona and their rebuilding process, so setting the tone early will be a big help toward becoming competitive again. Greinke’s leadership will be key for this team if their rotation hopes to continue to develop and find success as the season goes along. With a revamped rotation and new jerseys, there will be a lot of hype come opening day for Arizona’s fan base.
Zack is coming off one of the best pitching performances across a season in decades. In his age 31 season, Greinke posted a 1.66 ERA across 32 starts while finishing second in Cy Young Award voting. On top of that, he also captured his second consecutive Gold Glove Award and earned his third All-Star selection. It seemed as the season went along Greinke was almost shut down every single time he took the mound. His control and command were consistent as he posted an 8.1 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9. Replicating a season like that is almost impossible, but anyone creating projections for Zack understands that. It isn’t crazy, though, to believe that Greinke could be close to these numbers in the future. Most 32-year-old pitchers carry an insane amount of risk because of wear, but because of Zack’s ability to stay extremely fit and keep his arm rested he should have no problem staying on the mound for the majority of his deal. Not to mention he has taken an interest in the sabermetrics movement taking place in baseball, and he has credited some of his recent success to it. He is extremely up to date on today’s game of baseball.
It is almost impossible to believe, but another long offseason is about to come to an end with spring training right around the corner. The Diamondbacks have their first workout scheduled for February 18th, and you can bet all cameras will be on Zack. Since Greinke has dealt with anxiety and depression in the past, it will be interesting to see how leaving the comfort of L.A. will affect him. Hopefully the transition will be smooth, because watching how easily he dominates on the mound at times is fascinating. For a team like the D-backs that was all offense and no pitching in 2015, the arms will take this team as far as it goes. Obviously one guy cannot completely carry a staff, but an ace alone can do a lot of good. The duo of Greinke and Shelby Miller isn’t nothing to sneer at either; a lot of teams would love to have these two holding down the front of their starting rotations.
Expectations are high for Arizona after making so many different moves, so hopefully Zack and his new teammates are able to satisfy fans and lead this team back to the postseason for the first time since 2011. The journey to the World Series starts on Opening Day 2016, and after struggling for so long this franchise is starving to make some noise again.