ANAHEIM -- Whether frontline starter Zack Greinke chooses to re-sign with the Angels this offseason remains to be seen. But in their efforts to convince him, here's one thing the Angels can point to: They'll protect him.
In his last two starts, manager Mike Scioscia has opted against having Greinke exceed 109 pitches -- and both times that may have cost the Angels a game, with closer Ernesto Frieri suffering back-to-back ninth-inning meltdowns.
Greinke hardly ever exceeds that pitch count. In 11 starts with the Angels, the 28-year-old has surpassed 110 pitches five times, but has never thrown more than 115. In 49 career starts with the Brewers, he surpassed 115 pitches only three times (116 twice, 118 once).
"I'm very comfortable with the decisions we made in Kansas City and last night," Scioscia said before Friday's game. "Where Zack is in the season, with the mileage that every pitcher has, I don't think it's worth a pitcher's career to try to stretch him in a game that he might or might not get through and win.
"The bottom line is there's a pitch count we're not comfortable with and we're not going to put a guy at risk or his career at risk."
That may not be a stance you take with a pitcher expected to depart via free agency in a couple of weeks. Look no further than the 2008 Brewers, who rode a willing CC Sabathia hard the last few weeks of their playoff push, just before the big left-hander signed with the Yankees the ensuing offseason.
Scioscia maintains that the focus is on winning now, but there's little doubt the Angels see Greinke as more than just a rental.
"We're trying to win last night's game with Greinke or with our bullpen," Scioscia said. "We're out here trying to win tonight's game. You ask any manager about a player with the talent of Zack, if we hope it's long term -- of course we do. Free agency's complicated. You don't know where or what that route is going to be."