Pitchers David Price and Zack Greinke both broke the bank in free agency this offseason, raking in contracts in excess of $200 million large. Greinke left the bright lights and underachieving spirit of LA to help Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart lift the franchise out of baseball’s abyss.
When the Diamondbacks won their only championship, defeating the heavily-favored Yankees Dynasty in 2001, the team was spearheaded by two Hall of Fame-type hurlers in Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.
Greinke, who signed a $206.5 million, six-year contract with the Diamondbacks, was expected to be that killer-hill dude.
Price came to the Toronto Blue Jays in a trade deadline deal and nearly won his second Cy Young award in helping Toronto win its first AL East title since 1993.
Entering free agency, Price was coming off a 2015 season where he posted a 2.45 ERA in 220 1/3 innings. He was expected to go to the highest bidder and he did. The last place Boston Red Sox gave the left-handed free agent a seven-year $217 million deal to lead the rebirth.
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Both of these guys are the shining stars of their respective rotations, but only one pitched up to the robustness of his salary in his first start of 2016.
Greinke had his worst outing in four years, giving up seven runs -- six in one inning -- and looking like a spot starter rather than the National League’s platinum pitcher.
Call it nerves. Call it a bad outing or early season rust, but Greinke had not allowed that many runs in a game since the Diamondbacks scored seven against him on May 26, 2012, when he was a young Milwaukee Brewers pitcher. The 2015 NL Cy Young runner-up also gave up three homers in a game for the first time since Aug. 19, 2009.
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FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal later reported that Greinke had the flu and Greinke was adamant about not missing his start despite feeling ill.
"Usually in the past, one bad outing, I usually get over it pretty quick," Greinke said on MLB Network after his club's 10-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.
He never mentioned he was sick. So maybe Greinke actually deserves props for going out there at less than 100 percent. Maybe he should be credited for being a leader and recognizing the bigger picture and what he will mean to this organization moving forward. The moment called for him to go up there and rock out and he did. Despite the results, his intent certainly changes the complexion of the miserable outing.
He took one for the team in a way, and it’s a good bet he will gather his composure and should be more like the ace who led all pitchers with a 1.66 ERA last season. He gets another shot on Saturday.
Price on the other hand, gutted through brick cold weather to toss 103 pitches in six innings of work and strikeout 10 batters, while allowing just two runs and five hits. It was a typical day at the office for the 2012 American League Cy Young award winner.
In defeat, Greinke set the tone for the rest of Arizona's season by fighting through the flu so he could be on the mound. He surely didn't do it for his own benefit. His check clears regardless. So I think that’s a great sign for the D-Backs.
Greinke never had to be the man with the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw has that title on lock and no matter what Zack did, he wasn’t going to surpass "The K-Machine" in stature.
Now, Greinke has to step up and be counted on to win every fifth day for a Diamondbacks team that is still low on talent and a few years away from competing for a division title. Price has the same pressure but he was the Top Dawg in Tampa Bay and during his brief Detroit stint. So far he hasn’t let the magnitude of the money affect his cool.
In any event, both of these guys are expected to be very impactful for teams who won less than 80 games last season. They have to take the lead in helping to cultivate a winning culture.
For $400 million, they better.