No offseason move the KC Royals made probably pleased fans more, and did more to ease the pain of the three month long lockout, than bringing back Zack Greinke. The club signed their former Cy Young winner shortly after the owners and union reached a new labor agreement in March.
Reuniting with Greinke signaled the club’s willingness to spend at least some money to land a star free agent, suggested a commitment to winning more games now, not later, and sparked new enthusiasm about a KC rotation that hasn’t accomplished much since the magical seasons of 2014 and 2015.
So far this season, Greinke, 38 and pitching in his 19th big league season, has done everything the Royals wanted and expected him to do … maybe more.
Going into today’s doubleheader at Baltimore, Greinke, who’s scheduled to start the first game, owns a nifty 2.57 ERA. He’s walked only three batters and his WHIP is an excellent 0.964. He’s pitched five innings or more in each of five starts.
But for all that, the righty whose 219 career wins make him a legitimate Hall of Fame candidate has yet to win a game this season. He’s 0-2, an odd record for a pitcher with such excellent numbers.
The reason is no mystery.
The KC Royals give Zack Greinke pathetic run support whenever he pitches.
The weakness of Kansas City’s offense is obvious, well-chronicled and a heavy drag on the club.
And profound when Greinke pitches. The Royals scored enough runs to win only once in his five starts, with that lone feat coming after he’d left the game on Opening Day—he’d surrendered only one run and the score was tied 1-1 when manager Mike Matheny pulled him with two outs in the sixth. KC scored two in the eighth to win 3-1, but Greinke didn’t figure in the decision.
The Royals lost his next start a week later, but Greinke left with the score tied in the sixth after allowing Detroit only two runs. Jake Brentz gave the Tigers two in the seventh, enough for them to claim a 4-2 win.
Greinke pitched superbly his next time out, limiting Minnesota to one run in five innings. His departure came with the Royals behind 1-0, and that’s how the game ended. Once again, his teammates’ bats were maddeningly quiet. Greinke took the loss.
Tough times struck again in his next start. He gave up three runs in six innings; the game was tied 3-3 when the bullpen took over to begin the seventh inning. But it uncharacteristically surrendered four runs, giving the Royals a 7-3 loss.
Greinke last pitched Monday and lost 1-0 to St. Louis.
The picture is clear. Kansas City doesn’t hit when Greinke pitches. The Royals’ team batting average in his games is .151, a clip 67 points below their .218 season average, an unsightly mark that ties them with Houston for second-worst in the American League.
The club averages 1.6 runs per Greinke game, and have scored an average of 1.2 runs at the points he’s left those contests.
Greinke is doing his part. The time has come for his teammates to do theirs.
Get him some runs, please.
First pitch of today’s twinbill opener is set for 12:35 p.m. CDT, with Greinke going against Baltimore’s Jordan Lyles (2-2). The second game will begin shortly after the first ends; Daniel Lynch (2-1) is slated to face Bruce Zimmerman (1-1). The series concludes with Monday’s 11:05 a.m. CDT contest.