How good is Astros' rotation with Zack Greinke? Houston trio could accomplish feat not seen in nearly a century

On Wednesday, the Houston Astros pulled off the most surprising trade of the deadline season, acquiring right-handed starter Zack Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for four prospects and substantial cash considerations. Greinke joins a rotation that already includes Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, and while you might suspect you know how good that trio is, you probably didn't know that they're on pace to accomplish a historic feat.

According to Griffin Waugh of CBS Sports' research department, those three could become the first trio of teammates to finish top-five in the majors in WHIP since Dolf Luque, Pete Donohue, and Eppa Rixey did it with the 1925 Cincinnati Reds. As it stands, Verlander ranks No. 1 (0.811), Greinke No. 3 (0.945), and Cole No. 5 (1.002). Yes, WHIP has its flaws and isn't predictive, but that's nifty trivia and somewhat indicative of how good the three have been at suppressing baserunners.

To think, no one even talks about Wade Miley, who is expected to be the Astros' fourth starter come playoff time. Miley has a 146 ERA+.

While Greinke will fit in just fine from a production standpoint, it's worth noting he is a departure for the Astros when it comes to style. Houston's rotation ranks third in baseball in average fastball velocity, with Cole sitting around 97 mph, Verlander about 95 mph, and the left-handed Miley 91. Greinke, conversely, checks in at 90 mph -- placing him ahead of just Kyle Hendricks, Mike Leake, and Adam Wainwright, so far as qualified right-handed starters go.

Of course, Greinke has proved to be proficient without velocity. He has a deep arsenal that he leverages and locates well. He's undoubtedly among the most intelligent and athletic pitchers in the game, with the latter coming in handy as a fielder and, at least in a small sample this season, as a hitter -- in 48 at-bats this season he hit .271/.300/.583 with three homers.

The Astros already had a good shot at winning the World Series. Yet the trade improved their chances by the most in baseball, three whole percentage points, according to Stephen Oh's SportsLine projections. The Astros' 22 percent likelihood ranks second in baseball, behind only the Los Angeles Dodgers (27 percent), who appear to have an easier road to the Fall Classic. 

In other words, now that the Astros have Greinke in tow it looks like we could be heading for a rematch of the 2017 World Series.

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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