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ESPN writer: Zack Greinke’s fastball has been the issue

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Friday, May 6, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

There’s no doubt Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke has yet to live up to expectations this season.

Coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers on a six-year, $206.5 million contract, he was expected to not only be an ace, but be one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.

Instead, in nine starts, Greinke has posted a 4-3 record with a 5.08 ERA. Opponents are batting .294 against him, and he has served up 67 hits and seven home runs in 56.2 innings while striking out 51 and walking 12.

While Diamondbacks fans are understandably disappointed and maybe even a bit nervous about those numbers, Greinke’s track record is such where one would think he should improve over the course of the season.

Besides, as ESPN’s David Schoenfield points out, he is not the only big-ticket signing struggling to find his footing this season, as he joins David Price (Boston), Jayson Heyward (Chicago Cubs), Chris Davis (Baltimore) and Justin Upton (Tigers) as players not living up to their contracts.

With Greinke, however, Schoenfield notes that moving from Dodger Stadium to Chase Field has certainly played a role, but adds the biggest issue seems to be how “hitters have teed off on his fastball.”

2015: .201/.261/.362, 19.4 percent K rate

2016: .402/.442/.690, 12.6 percent K rate

Seems as if it’s all about figuring out what’s going on with his fastball, whether it’s lack of precision or lack of movement, or some combination along with some bad luck.

According to FanGraphs, Greinke is actually throwing his fastball at the lowest rate of his career, with it accounting for just 47.3 percent of his total pitches. He is throwing his changeup more than usual, at 22.9 percent, while his curveball has also seen an uptick from last season’s rate.

Why Greinke’s approach may have changed is anyone’s guess, though it appears something is a bit different with the 32-year-old this season compared to last year.

Regardless of why he has not been as good as before, the D-backs are certainly betting on him regaining the form that made him one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and led to them offering him the big contract he signed in December.

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