Zack Greinke helped lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to their third straight National League West title in 2015. Four years and two teams later, he could be the reason why the Dodgers lose their third World Series in a row.
The Dodgers are the obvious favorite to win the National League pennant. That’s a given. And before the July 31, the New York Yankees had the edge over the Houston Astros in the American League. Then the trade deadline came and went, and only one of the three teams mentioned made a notable deal.
The Astros shook the MLB world with their deadline deal to bring over Greinke from the Diamondbacks in exchange for prospects. Adding the All-Star righty to their roster gives Houston one of the top starting rotations in all of baseball — Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Greinke. This is on top of their stacked lineup, including Alex Bregman, George Springer, Yuli Gurriel and rookie Yordan Alvarez.
On Aug. 1, the Astros passed the Yankees as the favorites to win the AL pennant and were tied with the Dodgers in the World Series odds*. Today (Aug. 8), the Astros are projected to be the 2019 World Series champions (+275) ahead of the Dodgers (+300).
Am I saying the Dodgers automatically lost the World Series by staying silent at the trade deadline? No. Am I saying the Astros made things more interesting? Absolutely.
Both pitching staffs are STACKED. Game 1-2-3 starters for each team are all All-Star level pitchers and make up the top eight MLB WHIP leaders. Their pitching staffs also get tons of run support, with both teams leading their respective league in run differential.
2019 MLB WHIP Leaders
|Verlander • HOU||0.812|
|Ryu • LAD||0.936|
|Greinke • 2TM||0.967|
|Cole • HOU||0.977|
|Bieber • CLE||0.984|
|Scherzer • WSN||0.990|
|Buehler • LAD||0.997|
|Kershaw • LAD||1.038|
The two squads are also impressive at the plate, with players like Cody Bellinger and Bregman batting in the heart of the lineups. Bellinger is fourth in the majors in offensive WAR and Bregman is sixth.
Home field advantage could go to either team at this rate. The Dodgers (77-40) have a one-game lead over the Astros (75-40) with two more games played. LA would have a huge advantage if home field advantage lands in their favor, since they are so good at making comebacks. They have an MLB-best 10 walk off wins this year and still have 20 home games to be played.
In addition to being a late-inning threat, their bullpen — one of the team’s main concerns — is starting to settle down. And it could get even better come September. Young prospects like Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin could give their bullpen long, solid innings during the final stretch of the regular season and into the postseason. Joe Kelly is also looking like his old self, boasting a 1.74 ERA in 202⁄3 innings since June 1. Kelly, as well as May, could be used in tight spots to come in and shut the door. Guys like Pedro Báez and Kenley Jansen have also shown they can get out of high-risk situations if need be.
So — circling back to the initial question — maybe. Zack Greinke does make the Astros that much better, and if they win, this move will likely haunt the Dodgers for years to come. But the reality is, the two teams are evenly matched and the Dodgers are a better squad than they were two years ago.
This could really go either way, but one thing is for sure. Greinke will definitely not be bored in a Dodgers-Astros World Series. And neither will we.
*All odds are courtesy of OddsShark.