Life will provide lessons, if you’re paying attention and willing to learn.
Zack Greinke was shown plenty of lessons, mostly of the unwanted variety, during his first six years in the majors with the then-woeful Kansas City Royals. And he paid attention and learned.
So now he’s pitching absolutely terrific and cannot win a game. Since beginning the season 5-0, he has started eight additional games, pitched extremely well and not won a single one. He’s posted a 1.99 ERA in those eight starts and gone 0-2.
This might drive most pitchers bonkers, but Greinke just shrugs. Ask him if he’s frustrated by pitching so well and not having a single personal victory to show for it in his last eight starts and he says:
“No, I don’t really think about it.”
Now maybe you think he’s just trying to say the right thing, that deep inside he’s completely exasperated and ready to explode at any moment. But then you have to remember, Greinke is about the most honest person you’ll ever encounter. If he’s acting, he has a serious career after baseball.
Greinke said he learned to take the things he cannot control in stride during his years in Kansas City. The Royals were so awful then, that during his seven years there they averaged 64 1/2 wins a season.
So he’s pitched great of late and not earned a personal “W” and it truly does not seem to be eating away at him.
“In Kansas City it seemed like it happened a lot and I would try to do more and get out of my normal game,” Greinke said. “So I try not to think about it.”
Thursday night against the Rangers, Greinke threw seven scoreless innings. The Dodgers rallied to win 1-0 on a walk-off balk in the ninth, leaving Kenley Jansen the winner. Greinke did not allow a hit through the first three innings.
“He had it all going tonight,” catcher Yasmani Grandal said. “I was thinking he might throw a no-hitter. He was that good.”
Greinke said his off-speed stuff has been particularly effective in his last three starts. In those three games he’s posted a 1.24 ERA with two walks and 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings – and no victories, nor apparent concern.
“Sometimes your season can’t be controlled in wins and losses,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “I mean, a lot the analytics guys say wins and losses are meaningless. From that standpoint, he’s pitched really good.
“His record -- whatever it ends up -- doesn’t always reflect how he pitches every time out. Obviously this is a quality, quality pitcher, and you don’t always have control over whether your team scores.”
In 2009 the Royals won only 65 games and Greinke won the American League Cy Young. There was a lesson to learn there, too. And Greinke is not the sort who won’t pay attention.
Follow Steve Dilbeck on Twitter @SteveDilbeck