I lived with a guy who is a huge Royals fan. For the last couple years he would tell me, “Zack Greinke and Alex Gordon. Championship.” Except he would replace Gordon’s name with Luke Hochevar, or Gil Meche, or Mark Teahen. You get the idea. One name, however, always remained the same and that was Greinke’s. I didn’t take him seriously because he was mostly kidding, but definitely believed in the righty from Orlando, Florida. I saw the potential in his starts, but being on a chronically dreadful Royals’ team and having no great results through his first five years, I was skeptical. He’s making me eat my words.
After tonight’s complete game shutout, 10 strikeout performance against the Chicago White Sox, Greinke has video game type stats. He’s 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA. He’s given up two earned runs all year. Two! His K/BB ratio is 54/8. His ERA+ was 941 before tonight’s start.
For some perspective, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, Cliff Lee, also started 6-0. His ERA through those 6 starts was 0.81 and his K/BB ratio was 39/2. Lee finished with a 22-3 record and a 2.54 ERA. That’s one of the best seasons in history. Greinke is well on his way, at this point.
Then there’s the feel good story behind the 25 year old pitcher. It’s been wall publicized so I won’t go into detail. Go here if you want the full story. Basically, Greinke has suffered from depression and a social anxiety disorder for nearly as long as he can remember. In 2006, a year after losing 17 games, Greinke left the team and sought psychological help. He missed almost the entire season and debated quitting altogether.
Then in 2007, he fought his way back to the team and made 52 appearances, 14 of them were starts. Last year, he started the full 32 games and showed signs of the dominance that we’re seeing now. He struck out 183 batters, setting a new career high by 69. He topped 200 innings for the first time in his career.
Then came this year. When Greinke was about to finish his shut out of the Sox, I sent out a text message that said, “Do you think players will start keeping the baseball if they get a hit off Greinke?” I think it’s a valid question.