The Brewers came up short of a win again on Wednesday, but it wasn’t by any fault of Zack Greinke’s. By the numbers, it’s not crazy to say that Milwaukee not only wasted Greinke’s best start as a Brewer, but possibly one of the best starts of his career.
Wednesday afternoon, Greinke threw 8 scoreless innings, allowing only 2 hits. It was the first time he completed 8 innings as a Brewer — he worked 7 2/3 innings twice last season, but hadn’t thrown 8 full since September 8, 2010 when he was still with Kansas City.
Greinke also struck out 11 batters over those 8 innings, the first time a Brewers starter has notched double-digit punchouts this season. That also sets a high mark for most strikeouts he’s had as a Brewer, surpassing the five 10-strikeout games he had last season. The 11 Ks are the most he’s put up since June 13, 2010, when he struck out 12 against…the Cincinnati Reds. His career high is 15, achieved during his Cy Young season of 2009.
If you want to look at Bill James’ Game Score, Greinke’s outing looks even more impressive. With Game Score, you start with a mark of 50, and add 3 “points” for every complete inning thrown. Each inning after the 4th gets you 2 additional “points.” You add a “point” for each strikeout, but subtract 2 for each hit and unearned run allowed, subtract 4 for each earned run, and subtract 1 for each walk.
Add everything up for Greinke, and his Game Score for Wednesday was 89. That’s by far his best mark as a Brewer (previous high was 76, also last-achieved against the Reds) and tied for the 4th-highest this season. The only starts better than Greinke’s, according to Game Score? Philip Humber’s perfect game (96), Matt Cain’s 1-hit, 11-K CGSO against Pittsburgh (96), and Jered Weaver’s no-hitter (95). Greinke’s score ties Carlos Zambrano’s 3-hit, 9-K CGSO of Houston from Monday night and Brandon Morrow’s 3-hit, 8-K CGSO from May 3. Another way to look at it: Greinke’s start was the best non-CGSO this season. He also tied a career-high for Game Score — the last time he posted an 89 was August 30, 2009 at Seattle.
Game Score is a quick-and-dirty measure, though, and by no means perfect. But if you look at Win Probability Added, the outing starts to look even more impressive. Greinke’s WPA on Wednesday was .541, meaning he increased the Brewers’ chances of winning by about 54%. Again, that is by far a high for him as a Brewer. That’s his highest WPA since April 18, 2009 when he had an insane mark of .674 in a 10-K CGSO at Texas. That was his career high. His start Wednesday is his new #2.
Simply put, Greinke hasn’t been this dominant in a single outing in a long, long time. It was a big-time, big-money ace start when the Brewers needed one the most — the rubber game of a series against a division rival, trying to turn things around. Unfortunately for the Brewers, Johnny Cueto also made one hell of a start (in case you haven’t noticed, he’s allowed 7 runs ALL SEASON, 6 earned), Aroldis Champan has been untouchable this season, and the BABIP gods failed John Axford again in the 9th.
None of that should change the perception of Greinke’s start. If you need any further proof that W-L record is an entirely unfair way to judge a pitcher, just take a look at this start. 8 innings. 2 hits. 0 runs. 0 walks. 11 strikeouts. No “win.”