After 7 starts in 2010, Zack Greinke of the Kansas City Royals is 0-4.
After 7 starts in 2009, Zack Greinke was 6-1.
People are wondering what is wrong with the reigning American League Cy Young winner.
Is there actually anything wrong?
To find this answer, let's dig a bit deeper into Greinke's stat line.
In 33 starts last season, the Kansas City ace gave up 55 earned runs. This put his average runs allowed per start at 1.67.
This is not the same as Greinke's ERA. Earned run average is calculated based on earned runs allowed per nine innings. Obviously, he did not go the distance in every start.
This season, Greinke has allowed 13 earned runs in 7 starts. He has posted an average earned runs allowed per start of 1.85. This number is barely higher that his total last season.
In addition, Greinke posted a walks per nine innings ratio (BB/9) of 2.04 in 2009. Thus far, his BB/9 is 1.60, better than last season.
There are other similarities as well. His WHIP (walks/hits per inning pitched) is virtually the same. Last year, it was 1.07. Through seven starts this season, Greinke's WHIP is 1.05.
Finally, Zack's strikeout-to-walk ratio (K/BB) is only slightly worse in 2010. He posted a ratio of 4.74 last year and has put up a ratio of 4.50 this season.
Even though these statistics are very similar, something must be different. A 6-1 record at the start of one season does not suddenly change into an 0-4 record at the start of another.
There are a few reasons behind Greinke's record differential.
First of all, the Royals' ace began the 2009 season brilliantly. In five starts in April, Greinke gave up just two earned runs and threw two complete game shutouts.
People questioning why he is not replicating his 2009 start do not understand how great he was to open the season. His ERA through seven starts was 0.51. Replicating that streak would be next to impossible.
Plus, the win statistic is based on more than just a pitcher's performance. The offense must score runs and the defense must limit their errors.
The Royals have done neither in 2010.
Last season, the Royals offense averaged 4.77 runs per game through May 8. This season, they have averaged 4.13 runs.
However, there is an even more extreme difference when this statistic is narrowed down to just Greinke's starts. In 2009, the Royals scored around four runs per game in Zack's first seven starts.
This season, that number is down to 2.50 runs per game.
Finally, Greinke gave up nine unearned runs in 33 starts last season. In just seven starts, he has already given up four unearned runs in seven starts. Should that rate continue, opponents would approximately double the number of unearned runs scored on Greinke.
There is nothing wrong with Zack Greinke. He has pitched nearly as well as he did in his Cy Young season. Don't panic about him Royals fans.