Astros: Zack Greinke to the bullpen is a possibility for the postseason

Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

This past week, Zack Greinke was transferred to the 10-day injured list with neck stiffness. Now, the right-hander is eyeing a return to the roster, after a stop in Triple-A Sugar Land for a rehab start on Thursday.

The Houston Astros‘ hurler has stated in press conferences since his injured list stint begun that he will assist the team anyway he can in the postseason. Now on Tuesday, manager Dusty Baker informed reporters that there is a “distinct possibility” that Greinke ends up in the bullpen in the postseason.

With Zack Greinke possibly falling to the bullpen, how will the rest of the pitching staff look?

With Greinke possibly pitching in a rehab start on Thursday, it would leave the right-hander out for the remainder of the season with only six games to play as of Tuesday. Greinke falling to the bullpen would likely grant a postseason start to either Luis Garcia or Jose Urquidy, depending on which arm would have been left out of the rotation.

Greinke’s last relief appearance came in 2007, where the then 24-year-old posted a 3.69 ERA as a reliever and a starter. Pitchers are usually creatures of habit, and for someone like Greinke, it is evident he defines this phrase.

The 37-year-old has likely finished his 18th regular season, where he worked through 168.2 innings. This is the lowest total innings for Greinke since 2016, excluding the small sample size of 2020.

This season, Greinke has a 4.11 ERA and a 6.2 strikeout per nine innings, which matches his second lowest ever. With eyes on the bullpen, Greinke and Jake Odorizzi would be the long-relief options.

If Greinke doesn’t start for the Astros again in 2021, his last start would have come against the Arizona Diamondbacks, where he gave up five runs over four innings. His last quality start would have come on Aug. 23 against the Kansas City Royals, as both outings are ironic to his career.

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Michael Brantley remains on the injured list as well, while a return in the “next couple days” is a possibility. In roster news, Kendall Graveman was placed on the paternity list, as Josh James was called up to fill out the active roster.