Home > Los Angeles Angels > Zack Greinke Pitches 5 Innings, Gets 13 Guys To Strike Out. Do The Math

Zack Greinke Pitches 5 Innings, Gets 13 Guys To Strike Out. Do The Math

Dealing (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

I had a little Facebook conversation with a couple of friends a few days ago about who we think are the “ace” pitchers in baseball. My list includes a bunch of obvious choices — Kershaw, Verlander, Weaver, Felix, Lee and others. They are pitchers who have been consistently dominant for a series of years.

Where does Zack Greinke fit in? There’s no doubt that Greinke was flat-out transcendent in 2009. Since then, it just feels like he’s been good and not much more. Sometimes special, sometimes rocky. He has just been uneven since winning the Cy Young. His home/road splits have been fairly drastic for the past couple of years. So no, while it’s difficult for me to say it, I don’t think Greinke is a true ace.


Yeeeeaaaaaaah, about that ….

Zack Greinke struck out 13 Mariners in five innings Tuesday, becoming the first pitcher to record so many strikeouts in just five innings since 1900. Everything was working for Greinke as he struck out Seattle hitters on curveballs, sliders, changeups, two-seam and four-seam fastballs. He got a bonus K in the fourth when Trayvon Robinson reached on a third-strike wild pitch with two outs. Greinke notched his fourth strikeout of that inning by getting Brendan Ryan to fish for a slider in the dirt.  His previous high for strikeouts was 15 during that 2009 season.

The only negative is that Greinke could stick around for only five innings due to a high pitch count. Thirteen strikeouts and 10 baserunners ran his total up to 110 by the end of the fifth.

No pitcher has finished with 12 Ks in a five-inning start since the turn of the 20th century. Erik Bedard, Matt Moore, Rich Harden and Max Scherzer struck out 11 over five innings in starts scattered over the past four years.

But it wasn’t all about Greinke. The Angels struck out 20 as a team during the game, tying a Major League record. We know that Kerry Wood and Roger Clemens (twice) hold the mark for most individual strikeouts in a game, but they also hold the team record. I didn’t know until a few hours ago that there had been no team other than the Cubs, Blue Jays and Red Sox on those three fateful days to pile up 20 Ks in a nine-inning game.

In any case, the Angels are now the fourth and obviously the first to do it with multiple pitchers. That surprises me a little, but I guess it shouldn’t considering the difficulty of the task. The Angels had a 19-strikeout game back in 1974. It should come as no surprise that game was opened and closed by Nolan Ryan.

In 1986 and 1996, Clemens struck out 12 in five innings on his way to 20 against Seattle and Detroit. In 1998 against the Astros, Wood K’d 11 through his first five innings.

One start doesn’t bring Greinke back into my field of aces. But hot damn, when you can get more than 80 percent of your outs by way of the K and still qualify for the win, you are doing some serious work.

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