Yesterday Jeff Passan reported that, contrary to our assumptions, Zack Greinke is indeed willing to pitch in New York, and that winning is more important to him than avoiding media scrutiny and crowds and stuff. George King reports this morning, however, that the Yankees “aren’t buying it,” and that they believe Greinke truly doesn’t want to pitch in New York.
Deep thought: has anyone asked Greinke whether he’d be fine with it? Because that might be helpful.
I’ve said it before, but let me say it again: our speculation about what Zack Greinke may or may not be able to handle in light of his anxiety disorder is ignorant, silly and in some ways irresponsible. We don’t know for certain that it is triggered by crowds or press or scrutiny. Perhaps it’s triggered by negativity, competitive setbacks and the sense that all of the weight of the world is on him. If that were the case, wouldn’t Kansas City be a worse place for him to be than New York? At least there would be a decent assurance that he’d win with the Yankees, and with all of the other star power on the team the focus on him would be less rather than greater. Ask Nick Swisher how he’s doing these days.
And all of that could be baloney too. The point is that the only ones who know for certain about whether Greinke wants to be in New York and whether his anxiety issues would be triggered by playing there are Zack Greinke and his doctor. To suggest we know better is to suggest that we know the first thing about how anxiety disorder really works and how it’s operating in a specific patient. I think I know a lot of stuff, but I don’t believe I know that. Do you?
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.