That ace Zack Greinke might be past his prime doesn’t seem like a threat to Arizona’s stretch-drive prospects.
Greinke, who’ll be 35 in October, has a 2.93 ERA, and his workload of 1682⁄3 innings is normal by his recent standards. When he pitches Aug. 31 at Dodger Stadium, he’ll be coming off a scoreless outing of 62⁄3 innings (he allowed one unearned run) against the Mariners.
For Greinke to sustain his high level, however, he might need to maintain his unusually good .270 batting average allowed on balls in play to offset his home run-to-fly ball ratio, which is up five points over his career mark.
A statistical truth is that pitchers, by and large, can’t control batting average on balls in play, though there are exceptions. Greinke’s mark is the best of his career and 28 points better than the league average.
However, Arizona’s excellent defense might mean Greinke isn’t benefiting from extraordinary luck.
❚ Brad Boxberger has bounced back from two blown saves in recent weeks. He converted all four save tries after the blown save July 26, and he got his 29th save Aug. 26 a day after his sixth blown save.
The month ahead shapes up as the Rockies’ most interesting September in awhile.
Can Nolan Arenado lead the team to its first National League West title? If he does, the 27year-old might be in line for his first MVP award (he has never finished higher than fourth in the voting).
Arenado had a .973 OPS (onbase plus slugging percentage) and 90 RBI going into this week and again was having an excellent defensive season at third base.
He has batted better than .300 in every month except June. He has exploited high-altitude Denver to record a 1.100 OPS in home games, and his road OPS of .847 is better than average.
Arenado has batted .346 with runners in scoring position. He has an OPS of more than .900 against Colorado’s two main rivals, the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, and in 26 at-bats against the NL Central-leading Cubs he has batted .462 with five home runs.
❚ The return of Matt Holliday is another evolving storyline. Holliday hit a 448-foot homer as a pinch-hitter Aug. 25 in his fifth at-bat after rejoining his original big-league club. Manager Bud Black said Holliday, 38, will be used primarily against lefties.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Things figure to improve for Kenley Jansen because he has regained his hot fastball. The closer wasn’t in good form when he returned from the disabled list last week and allowed four home runs in three outings.
However, Jansen’s velocity was up — to 96 mph — in the Aug. 22 outing. The closer was sidelined by an irregular heartbeat.
The rest of the bullpen doesn’t have Jansen’s sturdy track record, though. The team’s 18-21 record in one-run games through Aug. 26 was another targeted area for improvement.
The Sept. 1 roster expansion seemingly will be better for the Dodgers than other teams. Depth is an organizational strength, and manager Dave Roberts is adept at creating favorable matchups.
❚ Max Muncy’s hitting versatility looms as a strength. Not only has Muncy thrived as a starter — a .965 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) through Aug. 26 — he also had a 1.103 OPS in 27 plate appearances as a reserve.
San Diego Padres
The Padres probably will wait until early next season to unveil pitching prospect Chris Paddack, whose dominant season in the wake of arm issues is an exciting development.
Paddack, 22, has commanded an increasingly lively fastball that recently was clocked at 98 mph. The right-hander has shown a good changeup and an improving curveball.
In 10 starts with high Class A Lake Elsinore (California), Paddack had 83 strikeouts against four walks. He then moved up to Class AA San Antonio (Texas) and had a 1.91 ERA and 37 strikeouts with four walks.
“I don’t want to be good. I want to be great,” he told “The Athletic.” “I want to be Chris Paddack. I don’t want to be a Clayton Kershaw. I want to be my own name out there in baseball.”
❚ Class AA San Antonio righthander Andres Munoz, 19, clocked at 103 mph in a recent game, and all 10 of his pitches were in triple digits.
San Francisco Giants
“We’re very beholden to a demanding fan base.”
Brian Sabean Giants executive vice president, per the “San Francisco Chronicle,” on why the team’s front office is unlikely to launch a full-scale rebuild
Giants executives say they won’t blow up the roster this offseason even though they have an old club. But they’re not ruling out significant trades before 2020, especially if the 2019 team warrants it.
“I don’t characterize it as a rebuild,” club President Larry Baer told “The Athletic.” “The win-and-develop model is not going away. Now, there may be a year where you just, because of the talent that is there, that you have to take a step back.”
The team’s best trade chip might be first baseman Brandon Belt. Ace Madison Bumgarner, catcher Buster Posey and shortstop Brandon Crawford seem certain to return. Beyond this year, the Giants owe $365 million to seven players.
❚ Posey, 31, will miss the rest of the reason while recovering from right hip surgery. Nick Hundley and prospect Aramis Garcia will fill in. Hundley is eligible for free agency in November.
Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado was batting .311 with 90 RBI and an NL-leading .973 OPS going into the week and was having an excellent defensive season.