After watching Zack Greinke yesterday, I have some concerns that I am afraid will not be answered by the Royals. I am trying to have faith that our coaching staff will recognize and fix some of these problems, but my attempts to believe are failing. The argument could be made that Zack is a Cy Young winner and should just be left alone. However, everyone needs help from time to time and Zack has been in a funk for quite some time.
You see, Zack is no longer throwing the ball, but he is somewhat pushing the ball. He’s not finishing pitches. He is not driving off the mound and getting nice, solid arm action. This would normally be a fairly easy fix as you would start working on driving to your target and setting a solid front arm, getting on top of your gathering point so that there is no leaking, checking your stride to make sure it has not changed, and making sure you are throwing from on top of your front leg. However, these are problems that I see running rampant among the Royals pitching staff. Soria, O’Sullivan, Davies, and Bannister are just a few that come to mind. And even though Soria is pitching well, that does not mean there is not something wrong. Some have been ruined such as Juan Cruz. And some are being held back from achieving their potential. Whatever is being taught, it’s not quite working like it is intended.
Zack is not using his fastball to attack hitters. During his Cy Young campaign, Zack’s fastball was instrumental in setting up his slider and other off speed pitchers. One of the keys to pitching is having a fastball that successfully provides a platform for your off speed pitches. Zack needs to get back to using his fastball. And trusting his fastball. But even if he does start using his fastball as he once did, it could be trouble because of his mechanics.
Every fastball Zack is throwing is staying flat. Zack threw downhill last year. This year there has been a slow increase in the plane he is throwing on. By not having his solid mechanics, Zack is unable to throw downhill consistently and is no longer a control pitcher. He isn’t locating his fastball nearly as well as he did last season. He does not control the strike zone like he once did and he no longer can throw his off speed pitchers to specific zones consistently. Greinke is still throwing strikes, but there is a difference in pinpointing and just getting in the zone. Slowly Zack is losing all of his weapons.
This is leading to frustration. And you cannot pitch with frustration. You begin to over throw. You fear hitters. You are no longer a confident pitcher. Slowly you start trying to make the ball move rather than letting it move. You start thinking that you cannot do what is required of you and you lose hope. And then you publicly state something that you cannot take back. It is a process, and Zack is almost all the way through.
The last problem that Zack is facing is catching guru Jason Kendall. Kendall has not forced Zack to throw with his strengths this year and is allowing Zack to pitch backwards to a lot of hitters. Unfortunately for Zack, he isn’t going to get any help in this area as they both are here for the duration of next season.
I hope Zack can get this fixed. I can’t help but wonder if the Royals are encouraging this style of throwing as there are others throwing this way. Or perhaps they just don’t know any better. Zack could be a dominate starter in this game as he is one of the most talented young pitchers in the game. He has even demonstrated his ability to be the best pitcher in the league. I can’t help but wonder what would happen if we traded Zack to a team that made a few minor tweaks. We’ve got to resurrect the Cy Young Zack. But sadly, with our current coaching staff, I don’t see it happening. And I fear for all of our pitching prospects coming up the line. By demanding a trade you might be saving your career Zack. Good luck.