MLB

Are the Houston Astros World Series Favorites After Zack Greinke Trade?

Zack Greinke #21 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches during the first inning

The Houston Astros made the biggest splash in the league on MLB trade deadline day when they acquired Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks for four prospects. With the move, the Astros are now listed as co-favorites to win the World Series as both they and the Dodgers are each going off at +275 (2.75 to 1) to win the championship in 2019.

Houston was sitting at +450 to win the World Series behind both the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers before the Greinke trade. Now, they suddenly look like the team to beat among the three.

The Astros now have the best postseason pitching staff in the league

Zack Greinke is likely to be a future Hall-of-Famer. He owns a career 3.36 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP to go along with an AL Cy Young Award, five Gold Glove Awards, and six All-Star Game appearances. In 23 starts for the Diamondbacks this season Greinke is 10-4 with a 2.90 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP, and 135 strikeouts in 146 innings pitched.

Before the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ trio of all-star pitchers shaped up to be the best starting staff in the postseason. But with the addition of Zack Greinke, the Astros now own the best three-man rotation in the game. Here’s how the combined stats for Greinke, Justin Verlander, and Gerrit Cole compare to the combined stats of Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler:

Astros Starters: 441.1 IP, 2.85 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, .197 BAA, 12.8 WAR, 11.1 K/9
Dodgers Starters: 375 IP, 2.59 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, .225 BAA, 8.5 WAR, 8.9 K/9

Yes, Los Angeles’s top three have a lower combined ERA, but Houston’s group is clearly ahead in every other category. This is even more impressive when you consider that Verlander and Cole have recorded their stats in the harder-hitting American League.

The Yankees and Dodgers didn’t make deadline moves to improve

The New York Yankees starting staff has been getting tagged over the last two months. New York’s team ERA ranked 24th in the majors in June (5.46) and 18th in July (4.85), but the Yankees didn’t do anything to address this at the deadline.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have had the best starting pitching in the majors all season; their 3.03 ERA among starters ranks No. 1 by a considerable margin over the rest of the league. The Dodgers also have the fourth-best offense in the league and the best offense in the National League averaging 5.41 runs per game.

Los Angeles’s only discernible weakness is its bullpen, which has a 4.06 ERA and has blown 19 saves. The Dodgers did very little to correct this, only adding underwhelming lefty Adam Kolarek and utility-man Jedd Gyorko at the deadline.

A dream deadline day for the Astros

Carlos Correa and George Springer celebrate a win
Carlos Correa and George Springer celebrate a win | Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Yankees and Dodgers are obviously still legitimate threats to win the World Series even without having made any significant deadline-day moves.

But Houston couldn’t have drawn up a better deadline day. They added an excellent starting pitcher in Zack Greinke, who is under team control through 2021, and some bonus pitching depth in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays for Aaron Sanchez and Joe Biagini. Meanwhile, their two biggest obstacles towards a second World Series in three years stood pat.

However the 2019 postseason shakes out, you have to respect the Astros going for it all while their championship window is open.