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What We Learned In Week Nine

We’re past the one-third marker of the season, and this season continues to be an interesting one. The Dodgers just won’t lose, the Rangers haven’t gone away, and the AL East looks like the best division of all time. What did we learn last week?

Zack Greinke is human.

For his first 11 starts of the season, Greinke’s numbers looked like something out of a video game set to easy mode. He was just toying with hitters, and every game was a potential shutout. Finally, for the first time this year, he looked human this week, giving up five runs in five innings in a loss to the Blue Jays. Toronto took him deep twice, accounting for the only two home runs he’s given up this year. Have no fear, though – even after a bad start, his FIP stands at 1.81 for the year.

The A’s may finally have a rotation.

After cycling through pitchers all year, the young hurlers currently in the Oakland rotation want to stay put. Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill, Josh Outman, Dallas Braden, and Vin Mazzaro combined to throw 46 innings last week, giving up 35 hits and walking just seven batters while striking out 26 guys. They allowed just eight runs between them, for a nifty 1.56 runs allowed per nine innings. They obviously won’t keep pitching that well, but Oakland built their preseason hopes on a young pitching staff developing quickly, and they had to enjoy this week’s performance.

Jarrod Washburn continues to shine.

Early in the season, my buddy Jonah Keri wrote a piece claiming that Washburn might be this season’s Cliff Lee, pointing to a greatly improved outfield defense that would help him have a significantly better year than many expected. So far, he looks like a genius, as Washburn continued to roll last week and is having the best season of his career. After two more excellent starts, his season ERA stands at 3.07, and while he’s gotten help from Franklin Gutierrez, Ichiro Suzuki, and Endy Chavez, he’s also just pitching really well – his FIP stands at 3.39. He’s added a two-seam fastball that is destroying left-handers (LHBs are 11 for 78 with 3 walks and 26 strikeouts against him this year), and by dominating same-handed hitters, he’s doing a halfway-decent Cliff Lee impersonation.

The Royals offense is not good.

Take away Brayan Pena, who went 2 for 5, and the best wOBA the Royals got from one of their hitters last week was .273, courtesy of Miguel Olivo. .214/.214/.429 made him their hitting star. That’s rough. You name a Royals regular, and they haven’t hit much lately. Kansas City, as a team, posted a .225 wOBA last week. It’s no wonder they scored a whopping 13 runs while basically falling out of the AL Central race. Greinke gives them a reason for hope, but Dayton Moore has a lot of work to do fixing that group of position players.