In the middle of the lockout, it is time to take a look at another free agent profile. Next up is 2009 AL Cy Young winner, Zack Greinke.
Once the backbone of the Washington Nationals, their starting rotation has become a shell of its former self. The vaulted big three that was instrumental in Washington’s 2019 World Series title has been broken up. Longtime ace Max Scherzer was traded to the Dodgers and is now a Met, Stephen Strasburg underwent season-ending surgery for the second straight year, and Patrick Corbin finished fourth to last in ERA (minimum 100 innings pitched).
But it wasn’t just Strasburg and Corbin, with injuries and inconsistencies plaguing the entire rotation. They finished 17th in wins (42), and strikeouts (781), 20th in ERA (4.64), 24th in fWAR (6.6), and 25th in FIP (4.88).
Behind Scherzer the rotation was a mess with 12 different starters receiving at least one start. Josiah Gray, Strasburg, and Corbin are all locks to make the rotation this year, leaving two open spots.
Joe Ross decided against season-ending surgery and needs to ramp back up, but is the front runner to return to the rotation. Behind him, Josh Rogers, Erick Fedde, and Paolo Espino will all be vying for the fifth spot. Each has its own flaws and Washington could always decide to sign a fifth starter once the lockout ends.
Enter Zack Greinke. With his best years behind him, the future Hall of Famer is at the tail end of his career, but is still serviceable. Last year with the Astros he went 11-6, with a 4.16 ERA, 120 strikeouts, and a 4.71 FIP in 171 innings.
At this point of his career, Greinke is an innings eater who would bring stability to the back end of the rotation. Excluding the shortened 2020 season, he’s thrown less than 170 innings once since 2007. To put it in perspective, only Corbin exceeded 170 innings last season for the Nationals.
Defensively, Greinke is a six-time Gold Glover and still provides positive metrics, posting five DRS in 2021. Comparatively, Washington’s entire pitching staff combined for -4 DRS last season
Greinke would plenty of veteran leadership to the rebuilding team and he still performs at a high level in October. During Houston’s 2021 playoff run, he posted a 2.84 ERA, including four shutout innings of Game 4 of the World Series.
More of a name at this point of his career, Greinke would help solidify the back-end of the rotation.