The Kansas City Royals defeated the Cleveland Guardians on Monday night, but that wasn't quite the story of the evening. Zack Greinke was, as the veteran battled through six innings of unorthodox baseball and pitched one of his better outings of the 2022 campaign.
In his six frames, Greinke somehow worked around seven hits to allow just one earned run to Cleveland's lineup. He struck out only one hitter in the process and induced five whiffs all night long, pitching once again to contact and using his movement and deception to get batters out. His final start of the year lowered his second-half ERA to a measly 2.43 in 59.1 innings, and Greinke said after the game that he could notice a difference in his success from half No. 1 to No. 2.
"It's better than doing bad at the end," Greinke said when asked about ending the year on a high note. "The whole second half kind of felt OK. I felt [that] the swings weren't as good on me as they were in the first half — a little bit easier to get off-balance swings and stuff."
While Greinke closed out his 2022 campaign (the Royals have just two games left entering Tuesday's play) with a 4-9 record, he still has what it takes to perform at the highest level of professional baseball. His 3.68 ERA, 4.03 FIP and 1.8 fWAR on the year prove that. While he posted a career-low 4.80 K/9 and battled some injuries during the season, Greinke fought hard and showed that he can pitch past his upcoming 39th birthday if he so chooses. With that said, he hasn't made that decision yet.
"I don't really know for sure what's going to happen," Greinke said. "We'll figure it out eventually, but I don't know at the moment."
When Greinke opted to continue pitching earlier in the year and signed with the Royals, he expressed that he "singled out" Kansas City as the franchise he wanted to be with in 2022. At the same time, he added that he didn't feel like this would be his last season. Despite the aforementioned injuries, he showed over the course of the year that he can remain effective deep into his 30s. From a performance standpoint, there aren't many — if any — questions to ask.
The Royals have also indicated that they'd welcome Greinke back with open arms should he decide to keep playing in 2023. It's far from a foregone conclusion that he'd elect to remain in Kansas City for another year if he pushes off retirement, but those odds seem better than him packing things up and relocating yet again. With plenty of youth in the starting rotation and a lot of uncertainty surrounding who will and won't be among that group once spring training rolls around, Kansas City could certainly find a use for Greinke in some capacity. Although the club had a rough 2022, he clearly loved his first year back in a Royals uniform. That's a good start as the offseason approaches.
"I enjoyed the season a lot, [and] love the guys here," Greinke said. "I mean, we miss Dayton (Moore), not to make a big deal about it, but there's a lot of good things here."