Zack Greinke could come out of the bullpen

HOUSTON – Veteran right-hander Zack Greinke coming out of the relieving box in the playoffs is a “distinct possibility,” manager Dusty Baker said on Tuesday. Greinke, who has been on the 10-day injured list with neck pain, said last week he would agree to play any role the Astros want him to play in October.

“He’s very open to that,” Baker said. “This is something we talked about, and maybe his idea, to try to help us. He is not lying down to begin with. It is a very distinct possibility.

Greinke, 37, kicked off his second reliever paddock session on Tuesday since arriving on the injured list and will take part in a rehabilitation outing Thursday for Triple-A Sugar Land, meaning he will no longer pitch for the Astros in the regular season. Greinke hasn’t pitched in relief since he was with the Royals in 2007.

“You have to somehow limit [the] expectations of what I can launch in the near future, ”Greinke said last week. “Fortunately, we have a lot of good pitchers on our team. I could perhaps still help in a more modest way, but hopefully be just as valuable. “

Greinke’s last start was on September 19 when he allowed five runs in four innings against full-backs. He spent 10 days on COVID-19 IL earlier this month and had made two starts since his return. 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 pitching 92 shots in six innings on Aug. 23 against the Royals, Greinke has pitched 76, 75 and 68 shots in his last three starts.

The Astros haven’t announced their playoff rotation, but it looks like Lance McCullers Jr., Framber Valdez, Luis Garcia and José Urquidy are the likely starters of the American League Division Series. Greinke would serve as a long relief.

“During the playoffs, you want as many veterans as possible who’ve been there,” Baker said. “Plus, I’ve noticed over the years guys who mix up when the hitters are pretty amplified, it’s to their advantage. … As long as he’s ready and has enough time to warm up, he can 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 throwing.

“All they ask of me will be the goal,” he said last week. “I will do whatever I can to be ready to do it. Our team is good. We will do our best to go as far as possible. It’s just the point, it’s to do all I can and hopefully win games.

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