MLB Betting: Greinke Solid Arm for KC
by Robert Ferringo - 04/23/2009
A few short years ago, whenever I saw the name "Zach Greinke" on the list of probable starters for a given day's games I only had one thought: payday.
Greinke was one of my favorite pitchers to fade in the Majors. Every time I saw his name on the card I had a bet on the other side. I didn't care who the opponent was. I didn't care who the opposing pitcher was. I didn't care what the money line or anything else was. When I saw Greinke was pitching I knew I was going to make some bank betting against him and the ridiculous Royals.
But now Greinke is turning out to be an automatic play for the exact opposite reason - the kid is quickly becoming one of the best hurlers in the Major Leagues and offers backers one of the best values in all of baseball.
So far this season Greinke has been dominating. He is 3-0 (+313) on the year, picking up 26 strikeouts (to just five walks) in 20 innings while not giving up a single run. In fact, dating back to last year Greinke has a 34-inning scoreless streak. He was amazing in his last outing, throwing a complete game shutout against Texas - one of the highest scoring teams in the league over the last two years - in Arlington.
Greinke takes the hill on Friday at home against Detroit. Kansas City's newfound ace won three of his four starts against the Tigers last year while posting a tight 2.77 ERA. As of the time of this writing there is not a line on this game. However, I expect Greinke to be a healthy favorite against a division foe.
The idea that Greinke would be a healthy favorite against anyone would have been a laughable idea to this capper just a couple years ago.
Greinke went 8-11 in his rookie year in Kansas City, winning eight games on a team that went 58-104. He showed some promise and came back in 2005 as one of the young arms at the top of the Royals rotation. He was greeted with expectations that were reflected by the oddsmakers, who were posting him as a small favorite or a small dog coming out of the gate.
He responded by losing his first seven starts (Greinke was 0-4 but the team lost all seven of his outings) and watching his club drop 23 of his first 28 appearances. It wasn't pretty. And by the end of the season the Royals had lost 24 of his 33 outings. And had you bet $100 on every one of his starts you would have out around $1,200.
It was discovered the next year that Greinke suffered from severe depression and social anxiety disorder. The 22-year-old essentially left the Royals, came back in September after a stint in Omaha (AAA) to make three shaky relief appearances, and entering the 2007 season his career was in limbo.
Greinke had a decent spring and was placed in the back end of the Royals rotation again heading into 2007. It went about as well as you would expect. Kansas City lost six of his seven starts before getting banished to the bullpen. They went on to lose his first three appearances then as well.
But then something clicked. Greinke was treating his depression and anxiety disorders and as he got more comfortable in a relief role he became one of the best setup men in the league. His ERA shrunk to 3.54 as a reliever and he posted a gaudy 3.64-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
My first thought about Greinke's move to the bullpen was, "Fantastic! Now there's a chance he could cash bets for me every day instead of every fifth day!" But you could see by the end of the season that the kid's stuff was back, his confidence was back, and that his prospects had just gotten a whole lot brighter.
Greinke was moved back to the starting rotation to start the 2008 season. At first I, personally, thought it was a mistake by the Royals, that it was a gift to the gamblers, and that the kid was going to wilt under the pressure. All Greinke did was come out and watch his team win seven of his first nine outings that year. The Royals went 17-15 in his 32 starts for the season and he managed to earn $100 backers a decent $200 for the season.
Now Greinke is quickly elevating himself among the category of elite arms in the American League. He has absolutely amazing command of his pitches and throws four pitches consistently in the zone. He has low-90s heat and then mixes between a heavy curve, a tight slider, and then a changeup that he'll drop in at ay point.
The kid is absolutely electric and is the key piece in a Royals rotation that has Kansas City ready to compete this year. The fact that he has put together such a spectacular scoreless inning streak has put him on the national radar and has definitely diluted his value a bit. However, even as his moneylines start heading north my only advice to you is this: bet against him at your own risk.
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