Greinke's personality suits Game 1 showdown
Brewers tab home-dominant righty to open NLCS vs. Cardinals
MILWAUKEE -- Typically, Zack Greinke is a quiet, reserved person. In postgame interview sessions, his answers are short and to the point, and he rarely makes much eye contact.
In addressing the media Saturday ahead of his start in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series -- first pitch Sunday is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT, with the national broadcast beginning at 2:30 p.m. on TBS -- a different side of Greinke came out. He was fun. Greinke was joking around about his teammates, and he even cracked a smile or two.
Asked about the Cardinals, he was frank: "No one really likes [Chris] Carpenter."
On teammate Ryan Braun's description of his awkwardness, Greinke drew laughs: "He's jealous of a lot of things I do."
As for his impression of center fielder Nyjer Morgan, it was honest, and Greinke drew more laughter.
- 2011 Regular Season
- Overall: 32 GS, 13-7, 3.56 ERA, 50 BB, 156 K
- Overall: 28 GS, 16-10, 3.83 ERA, 45 BB, 201 K
- Key stat: 2 shutouts (tied 2nd most in MLB)
- Key stat: 10.5 strikeouts per 9 IP (1st in MLB, among qualified starters)
- At Miller Park
- 2011: 1 GS, 0-0, 5.40 ERA
Career: 3 GS, 1-1, 6.60 ERA
- 2011: 15 GS, 11-0, 3.13 ERA
Career: 16 GS, 11-0, 3.26 ERA
- Against this opponent
- 2011: 2 GS, 1-0, 1.93 ERA
Career: 7 GS, 3-2, 3.27 ERA
- 2011: 3 GS, 2-1, 3.15 ERA
Career: 7 GS, 5-3, 3.75 ERA
- Loves to face: Jerry Hairston, 2-for-11
Hates to face: Corey Hart, 8-for-20
- Loves to face: Nick Punto, 4-for-19
Hates to face: Matt Holliday, 5-for-12
- Game breakdown
- Why he'll win: Tossed seven strong innings in NLDS Game 3 against Phillies
- Why he'll win:
Brewers went 16-0 in his home starts (including NLDS)
- Pitcher beware: Had 4.61 road ERA during regular season; 2.55 at home
- Pitcher beware: Struggled in Game 2 of NLDS, allowing four runs over five innings
- Bottom line: Keep riding momentum
- Bottom line: Home, sweet home
"Ninety-five percent of the time, he's great," Greinke said. "Everyone else probably likes him 100 percent of the time. But every now and then, he talks too much for me and gets annoying. But I tell him that. Everyone on the team loves him."
When Greinke tells Morgan he's annoying, does he pipe down?
So much for Greinke's seeming lack of personality.
Maybe all it took was a trip to the NLCS for Greinke to share the fun, joking side of his personality. It's certainly something his teammates have seen throughout the season.
"His personality's a lot different than others, but once you get to know him and figure him out, he's a joy to be around. He's a lot of fun," said Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy. "He has a really dry sense of humor, but he's mostly cracking jokes all the time and running his mouth. It's a lot of fun, because he means well, he wants to win, and he loves this team."
With the game tied in the bottom of the 10th in Friday's 3-2 NL Division Series clincher over the D-backs, Greinke was warming up for a potential 11th inning. He was available to pitch in the win-or-go-home situation, but he was obviously not manager Ron Roenicke's first choice out of the bullpen.
Now, Greinke is ready for a showdown against his club's bitter rivals.
With Game 1 at Miller Park -- where the Brewers are 16-0 with Greinke on the mound this season, including a 9-4 victory in Game 2 of the NLDS -- Milwaukee could not ask for a better way to start its first Championship Series since 1982.
"There's still work to be done, and Zack has been awesome the whole year," said Yovani Gallardo. "I kind of wanted to tell him today not to go to the bullpen, because we weren't going to need him. It was huge that we were able to win there [before he came in].
"That was big. We knew we were going to have to win that inning, and we were able to do it."
Greinke was supposed to throw a bullpen session Friday, but he was told to hold off in case he was needed in relief. Though he warmed up, Greinke did not throw so much that he couldn't come back on Sunday.
If the game had continued and Greinke pitched an inning, or perhaps even more, the Crew would have likely needed to go with Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf in Games 1 and 2 of the NLCS. While both were solid pieces of Milwaukee's rotation during the regular season, they also surrendered seven runs each in Games 3 and 4 against Arizona.
Instead, the Brewers turn to Greinke to open the next round.
"If we would have used [Greinke] last night, we would have had some tough calls on how we run this rotation through the series," Roenicke said. "But the way it is now, it works out well.
"With Zack there, we know he's going to be able to come back and pitch a couple of games. We know if we go to Game 7, Yo will be able to pitch a couple of games. And then we'll fill in the others with Marcum and Wolfy."
Greinke went 11-0 at home this season, making him just the 14th pitcher since 1900 to win at least 10 home games in a season without a loss and the first since Cliff Lee went 10-0 at home for the Indians in 2008. Greinke posted a 5-6 mark with a 4.70 ERA on the road.
Most teams would be happy just to have either Greinke or Gallardo. Milwaukee has both, and Marcum and Wolf are not far behind on the totem pole.
"It's awesome. A lot of fun for me," Lucroy said. "It's like driving a Cadillac, man. Every day, you get to drive a Cadillac or a Range Rover. You're not driving junkyard cars."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.