The Angels will get their first chance to see that investment pay off Sunday, as Greinke starts the series finale of this weekend's set with the Rays.
The 28-year-old Greinke has history with many Tampa Bay hitters, having pitched his first seven seasons in the American League with the Kansas City Royals. For the most part, he has shut down current Rays, holding big bats such as Carlos Pena (.167) and B.J. Upton (.211) over a sample size of more than 20 plate appearances.
Sunday is Greinke's normal day to pitch, and while some suggested he might be moved off his schedule to pitch a series opener with the first-place Rangers on Monday, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has opted to keep his new arm in turn. Texas leads the Angels by four games in the AL West.
Looking to spoil the party for the Angels and their newest star will be the Rays, who are hoping to overcome an oddity in this weekend's pitching matchups: It's the first time since April that Tampa Bay has started three pitchers in a series who all own a losing record in Alex Cobb, Matt Moore and Sunday's starter, Jeremy Hellickson. Moore defeated the Angels on Saturday night to even the series.
Hellickson's losing record does not reflect the strength of his season, as his 3.42 ERA over 105 1/3 innings of work might normally add up to better than a 5-6 record in 18 starts. But the Tampa Bay offense has struggled, and sits in the Majors' bottom five in batting average and hits and in is in the top five in strikeouts.
But regardless of what happens, the efforts of 2011 AL Rookie of the Year Hellickson will almost certainly take a backseat to the fanfare surrounding the arrival of the 2009 AL Cy Young Award winner Greinke to Angel Stadium. And though he will be a new face for Angels fans, his new manager knows exactly what to expect from his hurler.
"I think the combination of stuff and pitchability is what Zack will bring," Scioscia said. " This guy gets the ball in good zones with a lot of movement and action, velocity, spins the ball very well. He's good."
Angels: New-look rotation
The addition of Greinke immediately transformed a shaky but surviving Angels rotation into one of the most formidable in baseball heading into the stretch run. For now, Greinke slides in behind C.J. Wilson.
As things stand, Jered Weaver is the top man in the new-look rotation, and understandably so, with a 13-1 record and a 2.26 ERA. Behind him sits Dan Haren, 8-8 with a 4.59 ERA in 115 2/3 innings. Ervin Santana rounds out the quartet, for now, and will start on Monday in Arlington.
Rays: Longoria getting closer
Rays third baseman Evan Longoria played with Triple-A Durham for the second straight game Friday night, going 0-for-3 in his second game with the Bulls. Longoria is with Durham on rehab assignment as he works to return from a partially torn left hamstring.
Longoria was the DH for the second straight night, and is a combined 0-for-6 in his two games, though the results do not seem to worry Rays manager Joe Maddon, who believes his star may be ready to return to the big leagues as soon as next week.
Longoria was hitting .329 in 23 games with the Rays before suffering the injury. The Rays were averaging 5.1 runs per game with Longoria (seventh in the Majors), but are averaging over a run less in 77 games since.
The Rays are 17-14 in the Pacific Time Zone over the past two seasons, going 10-7 so far this season after a 7-7 year in 2011.
Angels catcher Chris Iannetta will also be making his first start with the Angels in some time Sunday. Ianetta was injured during Jered Weaver's no-hitter on May 2, when he was hit by a pitch in the right wrist. That wrist required surgery May 11.