There’s no player in baseball—and maybe all of sports—quite like Zack Greinke. The man is a machine: efficient on the field, serious and direct off it, and constantly experimenting. He’s lost around five miles per hour off his fastball over the years, but Greinke on a night when he’s going well is still a marvel, throwing at 90 mph and 60 mph and all points in between with a half-dozen pitches he can throw for strikes.
Last year, his first in Arizona, there weren’t as many of those nights as usual. Coming off the best year of his career—1.66 ERA, 222 ERA+, 9.3 WAR, two starts in which he allowed more than three runs—he finished the season with a 4.37 ERA and 102 ERA+. Given his age (he turned 33 in October), it wasn’t clear if this was just one of his occasional flat years, or if we’d seen the end of the Great Zack Greinke Experience.
Thankfully, it seems to have been the former. Last night he illustrated why with a nearly perfect Greinke game, coming one out from a complete game in a 5-1 win over the White Sox.
It wasn’t that what, though—12 strikeouts, four hits, one walk, the one run—so much as the how. Greinke, honestly, was pretty damn mean on the mound:
The real money shot was Greinke flashing his big eephus/slow curve to strike out Yolmer Sánchez in the top of the ninth:
In his 10 starts this season, Greinke is putting up a 2.82 ERA and 164 ERA+, with a league-high 78 strikeouts. He’s back to doing what he does, and while he’s very unlikely to ever repeat or top his 2015 season, it’s nice to see him return to his old, nasty self.