Zack Greinke is a slam dunk first-ballot Hall of Famer, and I’ll be delighted to watch him take the stage at his induction ceremony, give a quick wave to the crowd, say ‘thanks,’ and walk off the stage so the next guy can talk.
He’s an understated gem of a baseball player, one whose personality dovetails wonderfully with some of the more hilarious characters this great game boasts. He’s also a guy who knows what it’s like to be thrust into the big leagues as the future face of a franchise at age 20-21, something Elly De La Cruz is going through on the flip side with the Cincinnati Reds as we speak.
After shredding the St. Louis Cardinals all weekend, Elly and the Reds land in Kansas City tonight, and the veteran Greinke will be on the mound for the Royals weaving one of this late-career masterpieces. At this juncture of his career, 3 out of ever 5 pitches he throws are of the non-fastball variety, with a brilliant mix of slider, curve, and change doing more of the driving than his 89.7 mph fastball - a heater down from its 94.0 mph peak in 2007.
Hell, he even owns a devastating eephus, and we’ve seen it pop up at random over the years:
I’m just sitting here marveling at the concept of Greinke, with all his bag of tricks, facing Elly, with all his bag of tools.
That’s the biggest what if we’ll get to see this evening as the Reds begin their series against the last-place Royals, who - with 18 wins on their ledger so far this season - have only outpaced the lowly Oakland Athletics in the overall MLB win column. They are just 1-9 in their last 10 games, and have one just once in the month of June - a 2-0 victory over the similarly hapless Colorado Rockies. They are just 9-23 at home on the season, their team wRC+ of 81 is the worst among all 30 MLB clubs, their team ERA of 5.20 is the 3rd worst, and this is truly a series in which the Reds should kick tails and take names.
They’ll need a solid outing from Luke Weaver, a member of the 2022 Royals pitching staff, to get the job done. In a very small sample, tonight might well be a chance to see what Derek Johnson can turn a guy into after all.
First pitch is set for 8:10 PM ET.