I haven’t forgiven Zack Greinke quite yet. Not after he manipulated his way into a trade out of town, then publicly criticized the city, the Royals, the Plaza, Arthur Bryant’s BBQ, Worlds of Fun, and everything else Kansas Citians hold dear.
Good riddance, I said, and I swore to root against Zack at his every stop from here on. I don’t care if Dayton Moore said recently Greinke “will always be a Royal.” He won’t be in my book.
Well, here he is, exactly where he belongs, pitching on the big stage, and good for him.
No, I’ll probably never forgive him, but I must say, this is where he belongs. A young man with his extraordinary talent ought to be battling it out with the best in the sport in the biggest games of the season.
Greinke was never much of a team player. He often seemed distant and distracted. He seemed somewhat “me-first.” But no one ever questioned whether he was a competitor. So when he took the mound Sunday for the second of consecutive starts on three days rest, it should have come as no surprise.
Greinke wants to win, and he wants to compete on the biggest stage. And he is getting his wish. But as Frank Sinatra might say about the precocious 27-year old hurler “He did it his way.”
He started out the season with typically head-scratching Greinke-esqe absurdity. After costing the Brewers a small fortune, he injured himself off the field and started the season on the disabled list. At the same time he bashed the Royals and spoiled his legacy in KC.
When he finally took the field, he wasn’t sharp. Were it not for the potent Brewers’ bats backing him up, his first half could have been disastrous. After six May starts, his ERA was 5.29. Three good starts were overshadowed by two horrendous ones in June, and the kid entered July with a 6.04 ERA.
The thing he never lacked, however, was strikeouts. In spite of the rust, Greinke mowed down 80 hitters in just 62.1 innings through June.
Greinke got tough when the Brewers needed him most. His August and September numbers were solid: 8-2 with a 2.97 ERA, even if the strikeouts took a dip to about one per inning.
When Milwaukee had a chance to lock down the division title, Greinke pitched on three days rest. He wasn’t perfect, but he managed six innings to get the win in the season finale.
Then on Sunday, he took the hill again, once again on three days rest. Still far from perfect, Greinke gave up three homers in just five innings.
But he wanted to be on the mound. He wanted the ball. He wanted to battle for his team, to help the Brewers advance in the playoffs. In doing so, he helped the team straighten out its rotation for the next several games. In short, he fulfilled the role of an ace.
Greinke may not have been Sandy Koufax when pitching on three days rest, but he also may not have to pitch as much, now that the Brewers have cleared the initial hurdle. Greinke answered the bell and he’s in an enviable position now to pitch deep into the playoffs.
Enviable, that is, to Royals fans. No, I haven’t forgiven Zack Greinke. Not yet.