The 2019 Astros were the best collection of talent that the organization had ever placed on the field. From the lineup that featured a catcher that nearly hit twenty homers to a starting staff that had two guys duking it out for the AL Cy Young, to a rock solid bullpen that shutdown any team at the end of a game.
As the trade deadline approached in that 2019 season, the Astros did not need a lot. That would not matter of course as Jeff Luhnow did what Jeff Luhnow liked to do and that is swing big. The news did not arrive until nearly ten minutes after the deadline passed, sending the Twitter world into a frenzy. Without a doubt, the best team in the league that season added another former Cy Young winner to their already rich rotation, ensuring that they would bring home the trophy for the second time in the last three years.
You could not have written a better script for Zack Greinke after that trade, outside of his first few starts that postseason. Game seven, in Houston, up against another Cy Young winner on the other side in Max Scherzer.
Scherzer would blink first on the other side, giving up plenty of hard contact early and the first run of the game in the second frame. Both guys battled all night, but Greinke was the story. Tossing the game of his life, it appeared that he was on his way to playing the role of hero that the Astros might have envisioned for him. A blip on the radar popped up in the seventh as he finally gave up a run and that’s where the controversy still remains. Was Astros manager AJ Hinch too quick with the hook for a guy that had been rolling through the game of his life? It is a question that still brings pain to so many fans in the city to this day.
Grienke would go on to have many other fine starts for the Astros, none of which might have altered the way he is viewed more than that one. A sure fire first ballot hall of famer, too often he was looked at through the wrong lens during his time in Houston. Zack Greinke was not acquired to be the Astros ace at any point during his time with the club. His salary and the number of prospects given up to get him say that is what you should expect out of him, but the facts are simple he truly never was.
A solid veteran presence adored by his teammates, the Astros knew exactly what they were getting from him when they acquired him. Solid middle of the rotation arm that will eat up plenty of innings, but overall is a diminishing product. And it is completely okay to do this when you are as player rich as the Astros have been and still are. They decided to make a move they thought would put them over the top and the return almost got them exactly what they wanted. Despite some ups and downs, including many frustrating postseason starts, Greinke always seemed to show up when the Astros needed him most. Hopefully Houston fans give him the return to Minute Maid Park he really deserves.