Philadelphia, PA – If the Milwaukee Brewers needed some inside information at convincing ace starter Zack Greinke to stay in town, he may have offered up a juicy detail after Wednesday's 8-0 victory over the Cubs.
In that outing, Greinke struck out a season-high 12 batters and remained unbeaten in his career at Milwaukee's home field, Miller Park. He has won each of his first 15 decisions there over a 21-start span, just the fourth player since 1900 to win his first 15 home decisions with a team.
Of course, Greinke was asked afterward for probably the hundredth time about what makes him so successful at Miller Park. The answers are usually the same: run support, routine and comfort.
But the right-hander revealed another factor into his production, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"You're comfortable at home. You wake up in your bed. You don't have to go anywhere to get your breakfast and coffee. Sometimes, in the hotels they have bad coffee or something, so you have to go do other stuff," Greinke said.
If the Brewers are smart, they'll go out and buy cases and cases of Starbucks, Green Mountain, Dunkin Donuts or whatever kind of coffee their staff anchor prefers. They also could probably afford to get a few K-Cup machines for Greinke to take on the road for him.
Whatever it takes to keep Greinke in the fold after his current four-year contract expires at the end of this season.
It may not be up to the Brewers, though. Milwaukee is in the middle of the pack in the NL Central one season after winning its first division title since 1982 and has struggled to replace the production of another lost free agent in Prince Fielder, who took his power to Detroit this past off-season.
Injuries also have hurt. Milwaukee is currently without two starting pitchers (Chris Narveson, Marco Estrada), a pair of shortstops (Alex Gonzalez, Cesar Izturis), two first baseman (Travis Ishikawa, Mat Gamel) and starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy due to injury. Third baseman Aramis Ramiez, brought in to help fill Fielder's void, also has battled various ailments this season.
Those issues could be enough to make Greinke bolt. After all, he already forced his way out of one city because he didn't want to be part of a rebuilding process. That led to Kansas City dealing him to Milwaukee nearly a year after Greinke signed a four-year, $38 million extension with the Royals in January of 2009.
Milwaukee, which has a payroll just under $100 million, pretty much knows how much it is going to cost to keep the 28-year-old former AL Cy Young Award winner. One only has to look at the six-year, $127.5 million deal the Giants handed righty Matt Cain early this season to know the market value. But what the Brewers don't know is Greinke's feelings on the subject because he and the club decided in early April to curb extension talks.
Greinke, meanwhile, has refused to discuss pending free agency since March. But the Brewers still have an inside track at keeping the 2002 first-round pick.
There is, of course, his success in Milwaukee's home ballpark to consider and manager Ron Roenicke offered his take on the success after Wednesday's win.
"We always talk about the confidence when you're home or when you're on the road. He has great confidence here," Roenicke said. "He knows he's going to throw the ball well. When he feels that way, because his stuff is so good, it definitely helps him locate pitches."
Don't forget that Greinke's baseball career almost never got off the ground due to an earlier bout with social anxiety disorder and depression that led to a stint on the disabled list in 2006. Given that history, it might suggest that Greinke may want to stay in a city where he is both beloved and comfortable.
The Brewers' bats also would love for Greinke to stick around. While some offenses tend to relax when an ace pitcher is on the hill, knowing a lot of runs may not be necessary, Milwaukee tends to bring out the big lumber when Greinke starts, something he thinks has contributed greatly to his success at Miller Park.
"First, it started and we were scoring like eight runs a game. I guess we did again (Wednesday), but I haven't always pitched good to start. I came out of the game a couple times losing and we end up coming back, so a lot of it early on was luck," Greinke suggested.
"Consistently, we've been scoring a lot of runs and that has a lot to do with it, but I've been pitching good the last couple of times here."
Greinke is 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA in six home starts this season and the Brewers are 20-1 in his 21 starts at Miller Park. If he picks up a victory in his next home outing, Greinke would match the major league record held by Johnny Allen and LaMarr Hoyt, who both won their first 16 home decisions with the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox, respectively.
How much longer Greinke dominates at Miller Park is up for debate. There could be few options at this year's trade deadline due to some tight races across the majors and the Brewers will certainly get plenty of calls about the right- hander's services.
If it's up to Greinke, he'll probably go where the coffee is best.