It’s been written about in numerous articles, but the Arizona Diamondbacks enter the 2018 regular season with big expectations and a desire to make it back to the postseason.
Greinke is the most important piece because of his status as one of the game’s better pitchers and the fact that he has seen a major dip in his velocity during Spring Training. He has also been dealing with a groin injury, so his status as Arizona’s Opening Day starter is still in question.
Usually hovering in the high 80s to low 90s with his fastballs, Greinke has seen a sharp decline to as low as 85 mph with his fastballs at the beginning of Spring Training.
This isn’t to say a pitcher who doesn’t throw particularly hard can’t be successful. Just look at Mark Buehrle’s career. It can, however, be a serious adjustment for some pitchers who have been accustomed to throwing at certain speeds and have to figure out how to get batters out with non-overpowering stuff.
An example would be Tim Lincecum, who used to throw in the high 90s in the late 2010s and struggled to find his footing at the big league level once his velocity fell off. He has since signed with the Texas Rangers, but there were times in recent years when it was unclear whether Lincecum would ever throw another MLB pitch.
The Diamondbacks need Greinke to be a rock from the start of the season to ensure they can keep up with the Dodgers and Rockies within the division and can’t afford for Greinke to struggle too much.
A drop in velocity isn’t a death sentence for a pitcher, and there’s no reason to think this could be a blip on the radar and Greinke could be back to his typical self by Opening Day.
If it is a long-term aspect of his game, however, Greinke is the man to overcome such an obstacle and find success.