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Numbers Game: Dodgers land Greinke

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Scott Cullen
12/10/2012 12:16:38 PM
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The Los Angeles Dodgers proved, under new ownership last season, that they are willing to spend to contend and made a big splash on the free agent market over the weekend.

Numbers Game looks at the Dodgers' addition of starting pitcher Zack Greinke.

The Dodgers Get: RHP Zack Greinke.

The prize of the free agent pitching market, 29-year-old Zack Greinke has been one of the game's elite starters over the last five seasons, posting a 70-43 record with 3.39 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 8.8 K/9.

For the advanced stats crowd, Greinke has a fWAR (www.fangraphs.com) of 28.5 over those five seasons, fifth-best among major league starters, trailing only Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia.

With those numbers, and the 2009 Cy Young Award on his resume already, Greinke has the credentials to be a staff ace, but doesn't have to be with the Dodgers, since they already have Clayton Kershaw.

When he first arrived in the big leagues, Greinke was lauded for being a pitcher, but wasn't considered overpowering, striking out 5.9 batters per nine innings through his first two seasons. However, Greinke evolved, dialing up his fastball an extra few miles per hour (89.1 MPH in 2004 up to a career-high 94.0 MPH in 2007, before settling at 92.4 MPH last season).

Something that bears watching with Greinke, then, is that he started experimenting with a cutter last season, throwing it more than 10% of the time according to Fan Graphs. While the results weren't immediately favourable, if Greinke gains further command of the pitch, he could be even more formidable and he throws fewer sliders and change-ups as a result.

Greinke was signed for six years and $147-million (with an opt-out after three seasons, accoding to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal), which is obviously a massive price tag and a deal of that length presents risk for even the most durable pitchers, but it's a function of Greinke being the hottest pitching commodity on the free agent market and the Dodgers using their financial might to build a World Series contender.

Adding Greinke to a rotation that includes Kershaw, Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Ted Lilly, Chad Billingsley and recently-signed Korean import Ryu Hyun-jin actually leaves the Dodgers with too much pitching depth, an enviable problem that can be resolved with further dealing.

Greinke was brought to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last season and the Angels' rotation has undergone some changes this offseason, letting Greinke and Dan Haren depart, leaving them with Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, former Brave Tommy Hanson and young starters Jerome Williams and Garrett Richards. Looking at that group, it's conceivable that the Angels might be willing to discuss some of the Dodgers' excess pitching.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Zack Greinke (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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