Greinke On Pace To Win 30 Games
Zack Greinke 6-0,0.40 is off to a great start for the Royals and is on a pace to win thirty games in 2009. No pitcher has won thirty games since Denny McLain won thirty one games in 1968 while losing six.
It is tougher to win thirty games now because most starting pitchers today average 34-35 starts a season. That means they have to record a decision in at least thirty games a season in order to match McLain.
Cliff Lee was 22-3 last season after starting the season 6-0 like Greinke has this season. He was 12-2 last season before the All Star game and 10-1 after the game but still fell eight wins short of winning thirty games.
McLain made an amazing forty one starts during his thirty win season. He pitched twenty eight complete games. C.C. Sabathia led the majors in complete games with ten in 2008. Cliff Lee only pitched four complete games last season despite having a 22-3 season.
Most if not all teams today have five pitchers in their starting rotation unlike when McLain was part of a four man rotation.
In this time of pitch counts and relief specialists for the eighth and ninth inning a starter can be taken out of a tie game and lose any chance of being the winning pitcher.
We may see another twenty five game winner since Randy Johnson won 24 games and Barry Zito won 23 games in 2002 but nobody has won more than 22 games since then.
While McLain was getting a lot of attention in 1968 for winning 31 games Juan Marichal had a 26-9 season the same year.
McLain came back to win 24 games in 1969 but the 661 innings pitched over the 1968 and 1969 seasons must have wore him down. He never won more than ten games in his last three seasons.
I saw him in the 70’s warming up in the bullpen for the Shreveport Captains at Bringhurst Field in Alexandria Louisiana. It was ironic that a 31 game winner would finish his career pitching in the Double A Texas League.
For a pitcher to win 30 games today they would have to be incredibly lucky to stay in games long enough to record that many wins. They would have to win 30 of 34 starts which is next to impossible today. It may happen someday but I wouldn’t bet my last nickel on it happening.