The Los Angeles Angels thought they were getting an elite-level pitcher when they acquired Zack Greinke in a trade before the July 31 deadline.
After a slow start, it has proven to be true. Greinke is 4-0 with a 1.60 ERA over his past six starts, allowing no more than two runs or five hits in any of those outings.
However, he apparently came with limitations. For the second consecutive start, Angels manager Mike Scioscia pulled Greinke from a close game Thursday after he had thrown 109 pitches, saying he was "uncomfortable" pushing Greinke beyond that range.
In Kansas City on Saturday, Greinke was two outs short of a shutout when Scioscia removed him following 109 pitches. In Anaheim on Thursday, the Angels and the Texas Rangers were tied 1-1 after eight innings.
Both times, closer Ernesto Frieri came in and lost the game in the ninth inning.
"Zack got to a certain point, pitched a terrific ballgame, but he was getting to a pitch count that's a little uncomfortable," Scioscia said Thursday after the Angels' 3-1 loss to Texas. "Zack, I think he's got a range that he's comfortable in, we're comfortable in, and we're not going to extend anybody.
"I think when you start to get in a certain range, you want to be careful. ... I don't know if it's going to be 110, but there's going to be a certain point in the game. I think if we're stretching him to 115, 120, we're going to start to push him not only for what he's going to do bouncing back (for his next start) but for his career. We're not at the point right now where we want to push that envelope with him -- with a lot of guys. A lot of guys have a lot of mileage on them right now at this point of the year."
Greinke has been limited to more than 115 pitches in any of his 11 starts with the Angels. In 21 starts with the Brewers this season, he threw fewer than 100 pitches 10 times, between 110 and 115 just three times. His high was 118 in a May 31 win at Dodger Stadium, when he went six innings.