Milwaukee's Zack Greinke has been the subject of trade speculation for weeks, and could be making one of his last starts for the Brewers.
In what could be his final audition for a potential buyer, Greinke takes the ball for the first time in 10 days Tuesday night against Lee, perhaps baseball's most unlucky pitcher.
With Milwaukee (44-51) dropping a season-worst 11 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central with Monday's disheartening 7-6 loss in Philadelphia - its fourth straight defeat - Greinke (9-3, 3.57 ERA) seems likely to be on his way out. There was a report last week that the Brewers offered him a five-year contract worth around $100 million, but the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner is still on the market.
One of the biggest questions for any potential buyer is how Greinke will perform Tuesday after the Brewers decided to skip his last turn in the rotation in an effort to give him some rest and get him back in his routine. He hasn't pitched since July 13, which concluded the unprecedented three-start stretch - a decision manager Ron Roenicke is second-guessing.
"We probably put too much on him, thinking he'd be fine, and he wasn't," Roenicke said.
Greinke gave up 10 runs in eight-plus innings during those three starts, and has a 9.00 ERA in four outings this month after going 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in his previous six.
The right-hander, who has a 4.41 road ERA compared to a 2.56 ERA at Miller Park, hasn't started against the Phillies since June 19, 2004, his sixth major league game.
Philadelphia (43-54) appeared headed for a loss Monday, down 6-3 in the ninth, but Brewers closer Francisco Rodriguez imploded. He walked three, gave up three hits and allowed Ty Wigginton's sacrifice fly, which capped the four-run rally as the Phillies won for the sixth time in nine games. They're still 14 games back of NL East-leading Washington.
"It's huge. We have to build on that momentum,'' said Ryan Howard, who hit a two-run double in the ninth and had a solo homer, his fourth in seven games. "We need to take that energy and spread it over nine innings.''
That seems somewhat unlikely, though, considering the Phillies are 4-12 when Lee (1-6, 3.72) starts.
Lee pitched well enough to get the win against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday, allowing a run, two hits and a walk in eight innings, but Philadelphia could only muster one run off Clayton Kershaw. The Phillies went on to lose 5-3 in 12 innings.
It marked Lee's 10th quality start with only one win to show for it. The left-hander has been backed by 17 total runs of support in the other nine games.
"Not once this year have I said anything about being frustrated,'' said Lee, who was traded at the deadline in 2009 and '10. "I can only control what I can control, and that's to make pitches, get as deep into the game as I can and try to give the team a chance to win.''
Lee had a 2.08 ERA in two starts against the Brewers last season, but five total runs of support left him without a decision.
Ryan Braun, who is batting .233 with two RBIs and 12 strikeouts in his last eight games, is 3 for 9 without an extra-base hit lifetime against Lee.
- Zack Greinke
- Cliff Lee