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Texas Duel - Greinke vs. Millwood

Zach Greinke threw a gem in Arlington on Saturday night, beating what could be described as a gutsy outing by Kevin Millwood.  It was old fashioned baseball, no bullpens needed. 

Greinke didn't walk a single batter, struck out 10 and shut-out the Rangers while giving up just five singles, a double and a triple.  Not a lot of drama.

Millwood's 111 pitch, nine inning journey (same totals as Greinke) wasn't as pretty.  The veteran gave up only three singles, a double and no triples, but made up for it with a gopher ball in the 7th.  Millwood also walked three while striking out just three. 

PITCHf/x Data

As usual, I've reclassified the pitches.  I have one label for Millwood (FS) for what I don't know what to call.  Could be a splitter, a soft cutter, a hard slider.  Perhaps a slutter. 


spin movement spin axis/speed
Greinke # mph pfx_x pfx_z deg rpm
Change-Up CH 10 78.9 -7.6 7.0 227.0 1,842.4
Curveball CU 15 67.1 7.1 -4.7 56.4 1,286.0
Sinker F2 18 92.0 -7.9 8.6 222.7 2,444.7
Fastball F4 37 92.8 -3.7 11.0 198.7 2,445.0
Slider SL 30 82.9 5.2 -1.1 80.4 1,030.0
spin movement spin axis/speed
Millwood cfx # mph pfx_x pfx_z deg rpm
Change-Up CH 6 84.4 -5.8 4.9 229.7 1468.8
Curveball CU 14 72.5 5.9 -6.3 43.3 1,408.3
Sinker F2 29 90.4 -7.3 8.9 219.3 2,365.8
Fastball F4 23 90.2 -3.9 10.6 200.1 2,297.4
Cutter FC 15 89.6 -0.8 10.4 184.4 2,114.9
Slutter FS 5 84.2 -0.9 4.9 192.0 978.2
Slider SL 19 83.8 2.1 3.2 146.4 753.1


Greinke threw harder, with a little more tail and sink on his sinker. He also had more "rise" on his four-seam fastball. Greinke's hard stuff was better than Millwood's.

Millwood's curve had a different movement than Greinke's.  It also had more spin, but was a consistent speed. Greinke slowed his waaay doowwwn towards 60 mph a few times.

In terms of change-ups, Greinke maintained a much larger speed difference from his fastball.  Probably too much, while Millwood's is probably too little. 

The sliders, despite being similar speeds, are very different animals in terms of movement.  Greinke's the clear winner in that regard.

Let's graph all that - on the left side, it's spin movement with mph as the bubble size (hard to see that).  On the right, it's spin axis (I need to do polar plots, feel free to suggest a good tool or Excel hack) by MPH with RPM as the bubble size.





The overlap in spin movement between Greinke's slider and curveball is interesting.  If you look at the spin axis (polar plots would be so much better), you can better see the basis for the split.

Gutsy vs. Nasty

Here's what I mean.

  • Whiff rate: Greinke 26.8%  Millwood 10.9%
  • In "wide" zone: 63.4% to 50.5%
  • B:CS ratio: 1.7:1 to 3.3:1

Greinke pounded the zone and missed bats.  He owned Millwood in that regard.  But, on first pitches, Millwood did alright:

  • Millwood went to 0-1 in 52.9% of his match-ups, 1-0 just 35.3%
  • Greinke was at 41.2% and 38.2%
  • 20.6% of hitters facing Greinke put the first pitch in play while just 11.8% did against Millwood

On all balls in play, Greinke gave up a "slugging" rate of .417.  Average is around .500, so that's pretty good, but relatively meaningless over such a small sample.  For comparison, Millwood's rate was .333.  A lot of good that did him.  In this game, it reflects the difference in strike out rate rather than anything about batted ball characteristics.

Millwood got 12 ground outs (to Greinke's 10) including a double-play.  Willie Bloomquist was thrown out stealing, eliminating another Kansas City runner.  He got the job done without overwhelming his opponent.  But Greinke was overwhelming and got the shutout victory.  All in under two and a half hours.