Welcome back to the last installment of our series of player projection stories for 2023. We've previously analyzed how several Royals performed last season, discussed how FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference predict they'll do this season, and provided our own projections for their 2023 campaigns. Up today is Zack Greinke.
KC Royals starter Zack Greinke pitched well against the Dodgers, one of his old teams, last Saturday. He struck out five, didn't issue a walk, and scattered five hits over the 5.1 innings he threw before Taylor Clarke took over in the sixth.
Greinke's timing was good—the live game work was his last before Thursday, when he'll start on Opening Day in Kansas City, and restored him to the excellent track he was on before Arizona thrashed him for nine runs in just 2.1 innings March 19. He'd surrendered only two runs in nine frames prior to that beating.
Fortunately, Greinke looked much more like Greinke Saturday, and his pitching had much to do with the Royals' 6-3 win.
Now, Greinke moves on to his Thursday start against the Twins. His first pitch will mark the official beginning of his 20th big league season and his ninth with the Royals, with whom he started a journey almost certain to end in Cooperstown.
What should fans expect this season from the righthander who's won 223 games?
How FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference foresee Zack Greinke's KC Royals season
There isn't much difference between FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference when it comes to Greinke in 2023. The former (Depth Charts version) predicts he'll go 7-9 with a 4.43 ERA in 134 innings, and the latter projects 7-8, 3.97 (and, for some reason, a save) in 145 innings.
How will Zack Greinke actually pitch for the KC Royals this season?
Look for Greinke to be excellent. Ever diligent about his craft, he spent part of his offseason at Driveline, the well-known pitching mecca where hurlers concentrate on data and analysis to develop new, and refine existing, approaches to their work. And other than the beating he took last week from the Diamondbacks, he's pitched well this spring, a result that stint at Driveline might have something to do with.
And let's not forget last season. But for some inferior run support, an early season right flexor strain and a late season bout with right forearm tightness, Greinke's 4-9 record would have been better; in any event, his 3.68 ERA certainly wasn't bad, and his control (1.77 BB/9) was excellent.
This year? If he stays healthy, Greinke should look more like the pitcher who went 11-6 and helped Houston claim the American League pennant two seasons ago. Winning 10-12 games isn't out of the question, and he shouldn't have any difficulty posting another sub-4.00 ERA.