It's time to stop speculating about Zack Greinke on short rest and see what he can actually do.
Zack Greinke (3.83 ERA, 2.98 FIP) is, whether he intends to be or not, one of the more fascinating Brewers this season. He missed a month after getting injured playing pickup basketball. He battles social anxiety. Earlier this week he opted not to attend a celebration for a Brewer playoff appearance. The off the field storylines are many and well-covered, but on the field he's every bit as curious: He set a Brewer franchise record with 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings this season, walked very few batters (2.4 per nine) and yet somehow his ERA is still almost four.
Greinke is making career postseason start #1, and doing it on short rest. He also pitched on three days' rest on Wednesday when he allowed two runs on five hits over six innings against the Pirates, walking one and striking out four. With one exception (his disaster start against the Yankees on June 28), his four strikeouts matched his lowest total of the season.
Greinke's PitchFx numbers from Wednesday would suggest that losing a day of rest didn't hurt him much. His fastball still averaged about 93 mph, and he touched 95 at one point. He threw all his pitches, although he favored his curveball (19 out of 74) a lot. He threw 11 sliders, which is roughly his normal distribution.
Greinke faced the Diamondbacks on July 21 and was a tough luck loser in a game where the Crew was shut out by Ian Kennedy. He allowed two runs on five hits in the contest over seven innings, walking none and striking out seven. He had one poor inning in that game, allowing home runs to Justin Upton and Miguel Montero. Five Diamondbacks have faced him ten times or more:
He'll face Daniel Hudson (3.49 ERA, 3.28 FIP). Like Ian Kennedy, Hudson is having a breakout year for the Diamondbacks. He's pitched 222 innings in his first full MLB season at age 24, struck out about seven batters per nine while walking just two and done a pretty good job of keeping the ball in the park (0.7 HR/9). He last pitched on Monday, allowing four runs on five hits to the Dodgers over seven innings. He walked one and struck out five in that game.
If Hudson breaks down next season, don't be surprised. Here are his inning counts since his first full pro season in 2009:
Bear in mind, Hudson won't turn 25 until March. He throws a low-to-mid 90's fastball, a lot of changeups (22.1% of pitches) and quite a few sliders (16.3%). All three have been plus pitches this season, although the changeup has been his best at +0.51 runs per 100.
This is Hudson's second start against the Brewers this season, and the first one was ugly: He allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits over four innings on July 4, in the game where Shaun Marcum hit his infamous grand slam. You may recall that the Brewers lost that game anyway. No Brewers have faced him ten times, but Corey Hart, Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee have all homered off of him.
Greinke is the only change in today's lineup:
Corey Hart RF
Nyjer Morgan CF
Ryan Braun LF
Prince Fielder 1B
Rickie Weeks 2B
Jerry Hairston 3B
Yuniesky Betancourt SS
Jonathan Lucroy C
Zack Greinke P
And in the bullpen:
John Axford pitched one inning (14 pitches) yesterday.
Francisco Rodriguez and Takashi Saito pitched in the season finale on Wednesday.
Kameron Loe and LaTroy Hawkins pitched on Tuesday.
Marco Estrada hasn't pitched since Monday.
Chris Narveson last pitched on Sunday.
Now go make your Prognostikeggers predictions!