Zack Greinke is pitching in a different universe right now

The Astros have needed Zack Greinke to pitch like an ace, but lately he has been in a whole different universe.

With Gerrit Cole gone in free agency, and Justin Verlander injured, the Houston Astros have need the best from Zack Greinke. He delivered again on Tuesday, shutting out the Colorado Rockies over eight innings as the Astros eventually won 2-1 in 11 innings. He allowed just three hits, all singles, while striking out seven and walking none (97 pitches, 65 strikes). At one point, he retired 14 batters in a row.

Greinke now has a 1.84 ERA over his first five starts this season, with 25 strikeouts and just four walks over 29.1 innings. Two of those free passes came in his first start, so more narrowly he has issued just two walks with 23 strikeouts over his last 26 innings of work.

Greinke has ramped up rather nicely since the season started, going at least six innings while allowing one run or less in each of his last three starts. He has dropped his ERA from 5.00 to that 1.84 over that span. But a deeper look shows Greinke has been pitching in a whole different stratosphere lately.

Can Zach Greinke keep up his dominant pitching pace?

Since a tough 2010 with the Kansas City Royals (4.17 ERA), Greinke has had an ERA above 3.83 in just one season (4.37 with Arizona in 2016). Since 2013, that 2016 campaign with the Diamondbacks is his only season with an ERA above 3.21. He has a sub-3.00 ERA four times in seven full campaigns (three in a row from 2013-2015). He’s undeniably one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Entering Wednesday, Houston has won six games in a row and seven of their last eight to put themselves 2.5 games back of the AL West-leading Oakland A’s. If they are going to stay in the race, Greinke giving them a good chance (or a better than good chance) to win each time out will be a huge driving force.

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