A generation or two ago, the most important stat for a pitcher was wins.

Factors like WHIP, BABIP and spin rate weren’t considered in evaluations. Pitchers who won the most games were considered the most valuable.

That has changed, and pitchers like Zach Plesac and Zack Greinke prove why. Plesac (2-6, 3.80 ERA) will start for the Cleveland Guardians as they complete a three-game series in Kansas City. The Royals will send Greinke (2-5, 4.85 ERA) to the mound.

The Royals will try to win their first home series since April 26-28. The two teams have split the first two games of the series, but the games couldn’t have played out more differently.

After a thrilling walk-off win by the Royals on Friday night, the Guardians hammered the Royals 13-1 Saturday afternoon. The Guardians collected 23 hits, as five different batters had three hits. Jose Ramirez included a two-run home run and a double among his three hits.

The 23 hits allowed were the fourth most in franchise history and the most the Royals have allowed since 2013.

Plesac has thrown seven straight quality starts, lasting exactly six innings in each of those starts. He’s given up 10 earned runs in 42 innings (a 2.14 ERA), but he’s just 1-2 in those seven starts. The Guardians have scored just six runs in his last four starts combined.

According to FanGraphs, just two qualified pitchers in baseball — Oakland’s Frankie Montas and Kansas City’s Brad Keller — receive less offensive support than Plesac’s 2.84 runs per game.

He allowed two runs against the Tigers in the first inning of his last start, but then threw five scoreless innings.

“It’s just going out there, (building) brick by brick,” Plesac said. “I’ve been living by that phrase the past month and a half. Just continue to get better every day and look for ways to help keep us in games.”

It won’t be a surprise to see Plesac keep the Guardians in the game against Kansas City. He’s 6-0 with a 2.29 ERA in 11 starts against the Royals in his career. He’s earned one-fourth of his 24 career victories against the Royals. He’s allowed 18 runs (16 earned) on 49 hits in 63 innings. He has a 0.968 WHIP against Kansas City.

Greinke has plenty of experience against the Guardians, including opening day in 2022. He’s 11-9 with a 3.65 ERA in 32 career appearances (27 starts).

He appeared to be back on track after missing 25 days with a right flexor strain. He allowed a single run in back-to-back, six-inning starts upon his return. But he allowed six runs on 10 hits in five innings in his last start against the Astros.

“I felt pretty sharp but I made a lot of mistakes,” Greinke said after that game. “I didn’t really make a lot of quality strikes. They hit some balls hard when I executed, but just about all their hits were on mistakes.

“They have a good lineup, but most of them have a place where you can pitch. But I wasn’t executing good enough. I just have to figure out how to make better pitches next time out.”

–Field Level Media