It was difficult for the Houston Astros to improve their already loaded lineup at the deadline, but they did just that with the acquisitions of Zack Greinke and Aaron Sanchez.
They went right up to the 4 p.m. deadline, but the Houston Astros still came away from Wednesday as the clear winners of a frantic deadline day.
The Astros were quiet most of the day, standing by and waiting to see what the other contenders in the American League would do. Then, right as the clock struck four, they pounced in a big way. Houston acquired former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks and former ERA champion Aaron Sanchez from the Toronto Blue Jays.
The price to get Greinke was high. The Astros had to give up their third, fourth and fifth best prospects in first baseman Seth Beer and right-handed pitchers J.B. Bukauskas and Corbin Martin. But the risk was well worth it. Combined with Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the addition of Greinke makes the Astros favorites to come out of the AL in October.
As usual, the 35-year-old Greinke is quietly having a great season. He’s 10-4 this year and is sixth in the NL in ERA at 2.87. He’s given up no more than two runs in five of his six starts since June. He even started the Diamondbacks game in Yankee Stadium on Wednesday afternoon, holding the powerful Yankees lineup to two runs in five innings.
Greinke has two more years left on his contract that pays him $35 million a season. Helping the Astros efforts to acquire him is that they were not on the list of 15 teams that Greinke had a no-trade clause with.
The 27-year-old Sanchez, in contrast to Greinke, is having a disastrous season. Three years ago, Sanchez led the American League in ERA. Since then, however, he’s struggled with blister problems and hasn’t come close to replicating that production.
He’s winless in his last 17 starts this season and has the worst ERA in baseball among starting pitchers at 6.07. Sanchez, though, has shown signs of improvement lately. He struck out 10 on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays and gave up just one run in five innings against the Cleveland Indians. He also hasn’t walked a batter in his last two starts.
Going to Houston with Sanchez is right-handed reliever Joe Biagini. Outfielder Derek Fisher, who hasn’t played for Houston since June 12, is headed to Toronto.
The Astros now have a formidable starting rotation that matches up with anyone in the league. In addition to Verlander, Cole and Greinke, they also have Wade Miley and his 3.06 ERA. Sanchez might not have a place on this staff come October. The Astros, though, could use him as the Blue Jays did in 2015, as an eighth-inning setup man. Sanchez didn’t surrender a run in nine appearances that year as the Blue Jays made a run to the ALCS.
The Astros already boast the best record in the AL and lead the AL West by eight games. They also have a great closer in Roberto Osuna and a powerful lineup led by All-Stars Alex Bregman and George Springer. And now they have an embarrassment of riches to throw at teams on the mound.
Verlander, Greinke and Cole currently rank first, second and fifth, respectively, in WHIP. Astros fans must be wondering after Wednesday who is going to beat that lineup in October.