Greinke to bullpen? 'He's very open to it'

September 29th, 2021

HOUSTON -- Veteran right-hander Zack Greinke pitching out of the bullpen in the playoffs is a “distinct possibility,” manager Dusty Baker said Tuesday. Greinke, who’s on the 10-day injured list with a sore neck, said last week he’d be accepting of pitching in any role the Astros want him to in October.

“He’s very open to it,” Baker said. “It as something we talked about, and maybe his idea, to try to help us. He’s not stretched out to start. That’s a very distinct possibility.”

Greinke, 37, threw his second bullpen session Tuesday since landing on the injured list and will pitch in a rehab outing Thursday for Triple-A Sugar Land, meaning he won’t pitch again for the Astros in the regular season. Greinke hasn’t pitched in relief since he was with the Royals in 2007.

“You kind of have to limit [the] expectations of how much I can pitch in the near future,” Greinke said last week. “Lucky, we’ve got a lot of good pitchers on our team. I might still be able to help in a smaller fashion, but still be just as valuable, hopefully.”

Greinke’s last start came Sept. 19 when he allowed five runs in four innings against the D-backs. He spent 10 days on the COVID-19 IL earlier this month and had made two starts since returning. Greinke is 0-2 with a 12.46 ERA in his last three starts, allowing 18 earned runs and five homers in 13 innings.

Since throwing 92 pitches in six innings on Aug. 23 against the Royals, Greinke has thrown 76, 75 and 68 pitches in his last three starts.

The Astros haven’t announced their postseason rotation, but it appears Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia and José Urquidy are the likely starters in the American League Division Series. Greinke would serve in long relief.

“During playoff time, you want as many veterans as possible who have been there,” Baker said. “Plus, I’ve noticed over the years, guys that mix it up when the hitters are pretty amped up, it’s to their advantage. ... As long as he’s ready and had enough time to warm up, he could be very valuable.”

Greinke is still chasing his first World Series ring. He will be a free agent at the end of this season and wants to keep pitching.

“Whatever they ask of me will be the goal,” he said last week. “I’ll do whatever I can to be ready to do that. Our team’s good. We’ll do our best to go as far as we can. That’s just the goal, is do everything that I can and hopefully win games.”