Phillies Linked to Cy Young Winner After Taijuan Walker Injury

zack greinke

Getty The Phillies could use some extra arms to build some starting rotation depth. Could former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke be an option?

The Philadelphia Phillies are hoping for another deep postseason run in 2024. They’ll be lining up on Opening Day without starting pitcher Taijuan Walker, though. Could 20-year veteran and former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke be an option to fill the gap in Philly?

FanSided’s Christopher Kline cited Greinke as one of three low-cost rotation options for the team to consider. “Greinke was bad last season — we don’t have to pretend otherwise — but we’re talking about a six-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner who deserves a proper sendoff,” he said. “He wasn’t playing meaningful games in Kansas City last season. He would have a powerful offense behind him in Philadelphia, not to mention a stronger support system in the bullpen.”

Greinke spent 2023 with the Kansas City Royals, and the results weren’t great. He went 2-15 with a 5.06 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 97 strikeouts. However, he still racked up 142.1 innings across 30 appearances (27 starts) while allowing just 1.5 walks per nine innings pitched. Although his overall stats weren’t terrific, those are still some appealing aspects of his game that could be useful for the back of a big-league rotation.

A Look at the Phillies’ Current Rotation Mix

The Phillies will kick off their 2024 regular season at home against the Atlanta Braves on March 29. Their Opening Day starting rotation consists of Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez, Cristopher Sanchez and Spencer Turnbull, per FanGraphs’ Roster Resource.

Walker is on the sideline because of a shoulder issue. The 2021 National League All-Star won 15 games during his first year with the Phillies in 2023 after signing a four-year, $72 million deal the previous offseason. However, it was accompanied by a 4.38 ERA and he didn’t appear at all during the club’s postseason run to the NLCS. He also allowed eight runs in 4.2 innings this spring before the injury thwarted his ramp-up to the regular season.

That paved the way for Turnbull to make the club. He posted a 2.25 ERA in eight innings of Grapefruit League action. However, the righty’s recent regular-season results also haven’t been terrific. He missed all of 2022 with an injury and posted a 7.26 ERA through 31 innings in 2023 for the Detroit Tigers.

If Walker’s injury lingers and Turnbull struggles out of the gate, Greinke could be one of several free-agent pitchers who could be attractive to the Phillies.

Would Greinke Make Sense in Philadelphia?

Outside of the obvious surface-level stats for Greinke, he might not be a great fit for Philly in 2024, and it has to do with how often he’s allowed home runs in recent years.

For his career, the 40-year-old has allowed 0.97 homers per nine innings pitched. That number has jumped up to 1.58 in two of the past three years (2021 and 2023), according to FanGraphs. Citizens Bank Park has been the fourth-best place for dingers since the start of 2021, per Statcast’s Park Factors. Putting these two together could be a recipe for disaster.

If the Phillies eventually need someone who can take the ball every fifth day for a short period, Greinke might still be on option. He’s proven to do that even in the twilight of his career and wouldn’t cost much. But suppose the club has more long-term problems at the backend of its rotation. In that case, they’ll regret not doing what was needed to land Jordan Montgomery before he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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