Are KC Royals fans about to get their last looks at pitcher Zack Greinke?
That excitement greeted the return of Zack Greinke to Kansas City, a reunion the club and probable future Hall of Famer consummated soon after the MLB lockout ended, is an understatement. Home was the pitching hero who won his only Cy Young Award as a Royal and hope ran high that he’d help stabilize a KC rotation rendered shaky by inexperience and inconsistency.
But other than the 5-17 record and 5.80 ERA he put up in 2005, this has been arguably the worst statistical season of Greinke’s 19-campaign career. He’ll enter his scheduled Tuesday start against Detroit 4-9, 4.21, hasn’t won since beating the White Sox Aug.11, and had gone a month before that without a victory.
Fault, though, doesn’t lie completely at Greinke’s feet. He’s suffered from poor run support and spent time on the Injured List, first with a right flexor strain, then with right forearm tightness.
Still, KC fans have to wonder whether Tuesday’s start, and the one more he should get before the campaign ends in Cleveland, will be his last as a Royal … or for anyone.
Greinke turns 38 next month, so his best years are behind him. His injuries aren’t to be taken lightly and occasionally foretell more serios problems. And he’s pitching on a one-year deal.
Will he play one more season with the club he broke in with? Does he want to? The latter is a question only he can answer, and may already have; the former is one he and the Royals will obviously answer jointly.
It’s difficult to believe Greinke doesn’t prefer to remain a Royal. Surely he’d like to finish on a better note than this season’s and probably wants to be part of turning the team around. It’s just as difficult to think J.J. Picollo, who took over baseball operations a few days ago, doesn’t want Greinke helping tutor and guide Kansas City’s pitchers.
Greinke’s final starts may help him and the Royals determine his Royal future. They’ll be worth watching.