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Former D-backs Greinke, Scherzer listed as top 10 starters of the decade

On the left, former Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke. Washington Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer is on the right. (AP photos)

Did the Arizona Diamondbacks trade two of the best starting pitchers of the decade?

Yes, they did, according to MLB.com’s Will Leitch.

In the newest list of a series of top-10 players at each position for this decade, the D-backs find two of its former starters on it.

Current Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer came in at No. 2 while recently-traded Zack Greinke was placed at No. 7 as the top 10 starting pitchers of the decade.

Scherzer was drafted by the D-backs No. 11 overall in the 2006 MLB Draft.

He was called up to the majors in 2008 and was with the D-backs until 2009. Scherzer had a career 3.86 ERA and 1.317 WHIP in 46 games with Arizona.

He was traded to the Detriot Tigers in a three-team deal during the 2009 offseason for pitchers Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson.

Despite his early career struggles, since the trade from Arizona, Scherzer has won three Cy Young awards.

According to Leitch, his durability and dominance have made him one of the best in baseball.

It took Scherzer a while to get going, but once he figured it out, in 2013, he became the preeminent pitcher of his age, perfectly emblematic of the strike ‘em out era. He is titanically durable — he’s on the injured list right now, which means this may be the first season since 2008 that he doesn’t make 30 starts — and his strikeout rate has essentially increased every year. He also may the most intimidating pitcher on the mound since Bob Gibson.

This season Scherzer is 9-5 with a 2.41 ERA and has a league-leading 189 strikeouts. He is currently on the injured list with a back strain and depending on the amount of time he misses, it could hurt his chances of winning this year’s NL Cy Young award.

Greinke had a more established career before becoming a member of the D-backs in 2016.

He had already won a Cy Young Award with the Kansas City Royals in 2009 by posting a 2.19 ERA and striking out 242 batters that season.

When he signed with the D-backs, Greinke was coming off possibly the best season of his career with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA and 0.844 WHIP in 32 starts.

In what was a shocking move to most, he signed with Arizona on a six-year, $206.5 million contract.

In his three and half years with Arizona, Greinke had an ERA of 3.40 with 683 strikeouts and was an All-Star three times.

The 35-year-old doesn’t have the high-velocity fastball he used to, but his pinpoint command has made him incredibly valuable.

Leitch cites Greinke’s stellar performance with the Dodgers and success with the D-backs as reasons for being one of the top starters this decade.

He won the American League Cy Young Award in 2009 and then had the worst year of his career in 2010 in his final season in Kansas City. After that, though, he has been nails everywhere he has been, including his unreal season with the Dodgers in 2015, when he put up a 1.66 ERA, won 19 games and still somehow finished second in NL Cy Young voting. Yet again, he’s a pitcher who is still outstanding at the end of the decade, and he was the best player traded at the 2019 Deadline, with the Astros (who will surely somehow find a way to make him even better) giving away a trove of prospects for him. He’s even a five-time Gold Glove Award winner and a lifetime .224 hitter to boot.

Greinke was traded at this year’s deadline for four Houston Astros prospects: first baseman Seth Beer, infielder Joshua Rojas, plus pitchers Corbin Martin and J.B. Bukauskas.

Both pitchers had very different circumstances for being traded.

The D-backs gave up on the struggling Scherzer early and got two younger pitchers in return. With Greinke, the team was ready to sell to a team willing to giving up the prospects the D-backs wanted, the Astros were that team.

Other top starters of the decade on the list included Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who came in at No. 1. Astros ace Justin Verlander landed at No. 3 and San Francisco Giants starter Madison Bumgarner finished ahead of Greinke at No. 5.

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