The long shadow of the Carlos Correa free agency and his eventual abandonment of the Astros (or their abandonment of him) has almost entirely eclipsed the other big loss of the 2021 Astros. Zack Greinke. There are a number of reasons for that at least on the surface.
A power-hitting shortstop with a platinum glove is a fairly unique thing in baseball and Correa was coming off of arguably his best season. Greinke was coming off a statistically below average year and with Justin Verlander “replacing” him, his loss seemed more like a trade-up than a true deficit to the team’s fortunes.
But we should not be that hasty about turning the page on the Greinke era in Houston. There is certainly a case to be made that his loss could hurt the team worse than the Correa signing in Minnesota might.
- First of all, Greinke’s numbers for the season, especially his 4.16 ERA, were very pedestrian and not close to his normal career ERA of 3.41. But…..he still was 11-6 over 171 innings last regular season.
- And if you look more closely, on August 23rd, Greinke was 11-4 with a 3.41 ERA (the same as his career ERA) for his first 26 starts. He then made one more start before going down with a combo of COVID and injury. In his last 4 starts where he was headed to the IL and returning from it, he had an 11.74 ERA.
- So, the point is that for about 80% of the season he was a very solid contributor to the cause, which should be included in the judgment of the effect on the club with him moving to Kansas City.
- We already know that Lance McCullers is not ready for the start of the season and there is real fear he may miss a significant portion of the season.
- Justin Verlander has looked good in the spring, but he is 39 years old and he is coming off Tommy John surgery. They need to keep his workload low enough so he can help all season.
- Luis Garcia, Jose Urquidy and Framber Valdez are all young guys. Urquidy and Valdez have missed some time with injuries recently. The Astros hope that the youngsters do not have any leftover effects from the most innings they’ve ever tossed in a season.
- Jake Odorizzi has also looked good in the spring, but he was not great last season and is a few years removed from his most productive seasons.
- It is not unusual to need 7 or more starters to start 10 or more games in a normal season.
- Oh and if Jeremy Pena plays well and Correa goes back to playing in 100 games instead of 140+, perhaps the loss of Greinke could be the big one for this season.
How do you feel about the almost invisible man that the Astros lost?