The Kansas City Royals will open their final homestand of the year against a familiar foe. Former ace Zack Greinke is set to start Friday for Arizona.
The former Royals ace had originally been scheduled to start this Wednesday, but he decided he would rather push that start back to Friday. The rearrangement sets Greinke up to start the National League Wild Card Game next Wednesday on normal rest.
This will be the fourth time in his career that Greinke has faced the team that drafted him sixth overall in 2002. It will also be the fourth different visiting team Greinke will represent. He’s previously faced the Kansas City Royals as a member of the Brewers, Angels and Dodgers. Each of those previous three meetings also took place at The K.
For superstitious fans, all previous encounters went the Kansas City Royals’ way.
On June 12, 2012, Greinke threw seven innings of one-run ball. However, the Brewers fell by a 2-1 final score, as Greinke took a no-decision. After a midseason trade to the Angels, he returned to Kansas City on Sept. 15. Greinke took another no-decision after allowing one run in 8 1/3 innings of a 3-2 loss.
A couple of years later, Greinke returned as a member of the Dodgers. On June 23, 2014, he had his worst start as a visitor. The Kansas City Royals had 11 hits and scored five runs in just 5 2/3 innings. Greinke took the loss in a 5-3 defeat.
After an awful 2016—by his standards—Greinke will enter Friday’s matchup with a 17-6 record. He has a 3.18 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP over 198 1/3 innings. The almost-34-year-old comes in off the back of a horrendous start last time out, giving up eight runs in four innings to Miami.
Ironically, he is scheduled to face a former Diamondbacks pitcher, Ian Kennedy, on Friday.
During his time in Kansas City, Greinke experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs. In 2004, he finished fourth in rookie of the year voting. The next year he led the league with 17 losses and had a 5.80 ERA. After turning things around in 2007, Greinke went on to win the American League Cy Young Award in 2009.
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He compiled a 16-8 record while leading the league in ERA (2.16) and WHIP (1.07). For the advanced stats people, Greinke also led the league in ERA+ (205) and FIP (2.33). So he definitely earned the honor either way you look at it.
To date, it’s his only Cy Young Award. Although it could be argued that he deserved to win in 2015. His stats were way better than in 2009. He had a stellar 19-3 record, 1.66 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. Greinke’s winning percentage (.864), ERA, WHIP and ERA+ (222) all led the league. However, he lost out to Jake Arrieta by 22 voting points.
It’s fitting that Greinke will feature this weekend. Prior to the 2011 season, the Kansas City Royals traded Greinke to Milwaukee for a package that included Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar. Those two players, along with several others, will be playing their final games before hitting free agency.
For many of them it will be their final time at Kauffman Stadium, until—like Greinke—they return with their new clubs.