Analysis of Zack Greinke's First Start with the L.A. Dodgers

Seth VictorContributor IIIApril 6, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 05:  Zack Greinke #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches during the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Dodger Stadium on April 5, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

Friday night was the much-anticipated debut of Zack Greinke in Dodger blue, and it went very well.  He pitched 6.1 strong innings, striking out six and allowing just two hits without conceding any walks.

Greinke dominated a Pittsburgh Pirates lineup that has some high-end talent in it, led by last year’s third-place finisher in the NL MVP race, Andrew McCutchen, who was held to just one hit.

There was some trepidation on the part of the Dodgers heading into the outing because Greinke had been struggling with some elbow inflammation during spring training.  Indeed, he made only 92 pitches, despite the fact that he was cruising through the game.

He was as sharp as can be expected in his first start, locating his fastball well and generally staying around the strike zone.  He began the game with his fastball velocity hovering around 91 or 92 and mixed in his mid-70s curveball effectively.  His combination of pitches enabled him to keep the Pirates off-balance all game.

He was efficient from the get-go, making just nine pitches in the first inning and getting five of his first seven outs on ground balls before picking up his first strikeout.  He would then go on to strike out four in a row, though, as he settled in.  His fastball picked up some late life, and he was able to effectively begin to mix in his changeup.

As the game went on, he moved his fastball in and out and varied his pitches well on his way to his six strikeouts.

He got enough support from his offense to win the game, as an Andre Ethier home run propelled the Dodgers to a lead they would never relinquish, and the initial one-run cushion was all Greinke would need.

This was a very encouraging start for Greinke and the Dodgers, and it would have been even if there hadn’t been lingering injury concerns.  As it is, he demonstrated why FanGraphs has him as the eighth-most valuable pitcher over the last three seasons.