The Astros will turn to veteran right-hander Zack Greinke in Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Thursday at Dodger Stadium, needing a win over the A’s to advance to their fourth consecutive AL Championship Series.
Greinke, who began experiencing right arm soreness Tuesday, was examined by doctors in Los Angeles and played catch in the outfield following Tuesday’s Game 2 win. The doctors determined there was nothing structurally wrong with his arm, and Astros manager Dusty Baker decided to give him the ball on Thursday.
“He had to hear from the doctor that he didn't have anything wrong with his arm or anything structural, which eased his mind,” Baker said. “And then therefore, it made it easier for him to make the decision.”
Asked how many innings he expects out of Greinke, Baker said, "I'm not really sure. I'm hoping to get as many quality innings as he can give us and not have too many bullpen innings, because you rest with your starter.
"The better your starter can do -- the longer he can go -- then the less mixing and matching that you have to do.”
Greinke will be making his first start since allowing one run and two hits in four innings in Houston’s win over the Twins in Game 1 of the AL Wild Card Series on Sept. 29. He needed 79 pitches, and the veteran right-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning.
After going 1-0 with a 1.84 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in his first five starts of the regular season, Greinke went 2-3 with a 5.73 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in his final seven starts. He threw six scoreless innings against the A’s in Oakland on Aug. 7.
Thursday will mark Greinke’s fifth career start in a potential postseason series-clinching game for his club. He carried a shutout into the seventh inning of Game 7 of the World Series last year before Washington rallied to win after he departed the game. Greinke’s team has only one victory in those previous four starts, and that was the D-backs’ 11-8 victory over the Rockies in the 2017 NL Wild Card Game -- a contest in which Greinke lasted just 3 2/3 innings while allowing four earned runs.
Cristian Javier, who was an option to start if Greinke wasn't ready, is "probably" part of the plans in relief of Greinke, Baker said. Enoli Paredes, who pitched three perfect innings of relief over the first two games of the series, is a "maybe" for Game 4, according to Baker.