The Milwaukee Brewers started pitcher Zack Greinke in three straight games. Sure, he threw just four pitches on July 7 following a pathetic ejection by a first base umpire, and then tossed 66 pitches the following day before having the luxury of the All-Star break to rest before throwing 97 pitches on July 13. But he still technically started three consecutive games for Milwaukee, as the team won two of his three starts in those games.
But now, as many people could have predicted, Greinke is going to be shut down for the next week and a half. His next start was scratched in order that Greinke could have 10 days off in between outings.
Yet if you ask the Brewers, they will say it simply for rest.
The question is, knowing that they are going to most likely attempt to trade Greinke to a contender before the July 31 MLB trade deadline, should the Brewers have been more cautious with perhaps their most attractive commodity?
Greinke is having a solid season for Milwaukee, posting a 9-3 record through 20 starts. With an ERA of 3.57 along with 117 strikeouts, Greinke has been the ace of the Brewers’ staff. Unfortunately, it appears as if Milwaukee will be unable to make a run in the National League Central, with stiff competition from the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals and the surprising Pittsburgh Pirates. That means that Greinke will most likely be moved, as he is set to become a free agent soon anyway.
The 28-year-old former Cy Young winner will take the next week or so to “recharge his batteries,” according to Milwaukee general manager Doug Melvin. If he comes back much fresher, or fully charged, Greinke could get in two more starts prior to the July 31 trade deadline. It could be more than enough for teams scouting him to make a wise decision as to how much they are willing to move to acquire Greinke.
But what happens if he doesn’t pitch that well? What happens if Greinke appears weak or tired or erratic in his two starts before the deadline? Furthermore, what haapens if he cannot make it out of the third inning in one and then fails to even make the next start?
I’ll tell you what happens, The return package of young prospects that the Brewers would have once been able to covet and ask for will no longer be an option. Simply out, they would have to be willing to possibly accept less in a deal for Greinke.
Now, even with all of that being a distinct possibility, many teams will still be after Greinke. He is expected to be one of the top players available over the next couple of weeks, despite the fact that his ERA has increased over each of his past five starts. He also hasn’t gone past the sixth inning in almost a month, so his batteries may have needed to be charged well before the Brewers sent him out to the mound to start three straight ballgames.
It may not cost Milwaukee at all. But if Greinke does come back from his brief rest and gets shelled by the Philadelphia Phillies and Washington Nationals or Houston Astros in his two starts before the trade deadline, it may have cost them much more than they ever could have imagined.