Friday marks the return of Zack Greinke to the Royals rotation after about four months in the bullpen.
Greinke faltered in seven earlier starts and was sent to the 'pen where he worked in middle relief, sometimes as a setup man and once as a closer. In the 'pen, he often played power pitcher, a trait he plans to carry over to starting.
"I'm probably going to try to throw just about as hard as I can on every pitch the whole game. So if I ever do dial it up, it'll just be juices flowing more. I won't be dialing up any more than I was on the pitches before," Greinke said.
He learned that perhaps he was a bit too nitpicky as a starter, sacrificing speed for cruising the corners.
"Your whole life, people tell you how important control is and stuff like that. I might have taken it a little too serious. I'm not saying I'm definitely going to do good at starting now; it's just that I'll have a different approach this time," Greinke said.
The Indians were one of the roughest teams on Greinke in his bullpen days. He faced them five times this season and gave up five runs in four innings for an 11.25 ERA. He did get one victory against them, though, on May 22. Greinke pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings and was the pitcher of record when the Royals snapped a 3-3 tie.
KC: RHP Zack Greinke (5-5, 4.40 ERA)
Greinke is back in the rotation after spending four productive months in the bullpen. He replaces Odalis Perez, who has a sore left knee. Greinke worked 38 times in the bullpen and had a 4-1 record, one save and a 3.54 ERA. He really cranked up his fastball, sizzling into 98-99 mph territory, which he didn't do often as a starter. He sacrificed heat for control. Now, however, Greinke believes he can throw the hard stuff on a regular basis as a starter. In this return outing, he probably won't go much longer than four or five innings. There'll be a "piggyback" pitcher in the 'pen.
CLE: LHP C.C. Sabathia (14-6, 3.43 ERA)
Sabathia has learned to control his emotions and not let his anger get to him the last couple years, and he's really had to draw on that ability in recent weeks. The Tribe's ace has put together a 2.11 ERA over his last six starts, yet he only has one win to show for it in that span. He has been done in by a struggling Tribe offense. In his last start against the Devil Rays on Sunday, he allowed just two runs -- a pair of solo homers -- on five hits over eight innings in a no-decision. He is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in two starts against the Royals this season.
Player to watch
Sabathia has been tough on the Royals through the years (12-7), but Emil Brown has handled him well. Brown has hit .323 (10-for-31) against the lefty with a homer, a double and five RBIs.