June 27, 2022

a7office.co.uk

WEBSITE NEWS UPDATE

Ranking the 10 best Houston Astros pitchers of all time

6 min read

The Houston Astros’ pitching history is so deep that when compiling a Top 10 list, Nolan Ryan doesn’t grab the top spot and guys like Gerrit Cole, Don Wilson, Mike Hampton and Darryl Kile don’t even make the cut. To be fair, Cole likely would have made the list if he pitched even one more season in an Astros season, because he was dominant in his two years in Houston.

There are others who shined just as bright in their short stays in Houston, including Roger Clemens and Justin Verlander, who is still throwing hard in Houston.

Here is how we rank the top 10 pitchers in Astros franchise history.

10. Dallas Keuchel (2012-18)

Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros warms up before game five of the 2017 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston.

Dallas Keuchel of the Houston Astros warms up before game five of the 2017 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Minute Maid Park on October 29, 2017 in Houston.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Keuchel is one of four pitchers to win a Cy Young Award in an Astros uniform, going 20-8 with a 2.48 ERA in 2015 and shutting down the Yankees in the Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium. Keuchel also was the ace of the 2017 staff before the team traded for Justin Verlander in August. Of course, that team went on to win the World Series. Keuchel left after the 2018 season when the Astros didn’t make a strong push to sign him. He’s currently pitching for the White Sox.

9. Joe Niekro (1975-85)

Joe Niekro is still the Astros' all-time leader in wins.

Joe Niekro is still the Astros’ all-time leader in wins.

Steve Ueckert/Staff

The knuckleballer often was overlooked because he pitched on the same staff as J.R. Richard and Nolan Ryan through parts of his career, but he’s still the Astros’ all-time wins leader with 144 and is sixth among starting pitchers in WAR at 23.1. He was sensational in 1979 and 1980 as the Astros finally started turning a corner, becoming the first player in franchise history to win 20 games in back-to-back seasons. He went 21-11 with a 3.00 ERA to finish second in Cy Young Award voting and went 20-12 with a 3.55 ERA in 1980 to finish fourth. He also threw a complete game to beat the Dodgers in a one-game playoff in 1980 when the teams finished the season tied atop the National League West.

8. Roger Clemens (2004-06)

Roger Clemens started Game 1 of the 2005 World Series against the Chicago White Sox.
Roger Clemens started Game 1 of the 2005 World Series against the Chicago White Sox.Karen Warren/HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Clemens pitched just three seasons with his hometown Astros and they all were after he already turned 40, but he still was dominant. He’s one of four pitchers to win a Cy Young Award in an Astros uniform, taking home the title when he went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA in 2004. The next season, he led the National League with a 1.87 ERA and helped the Astros reach their first World Series. He still leads the franchise with a 2.40 ERA and his 1.074 WHIP (Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched) is the second-best in franchise history.

7. Mike Scott (1983-91)

Mike Scott clinched the 1986 National League West title with a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants at the Astrodome.

Mike Scott clinched the 1986 National League West title with a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants at the Astrodome.

Howard Castleberry/Chronicle

Scott’s career may not measure up to some of the other guys on this list, but no Astros pitcher has ever had a better season than Scott did in 1986. He won the National League Cy Young Award when he went 18-10 and led all of baseball with a 2.22 ERA and 306 strikeouts. He nearly single-handedly led the Astros to their first World Series, dominating the Mets, giving up just one run in two complete games in the 1986 NLCS. As Astros fans painfully remember, he was ready to pitch Game 7 if only the Astros had been able to avoid that 16-inning loss in Game 6. Scott ranks second on the franchise’s all-time list in shutouts (21), fourth in wins (110), fifth in strikeouts (1,318), fifth in WAR (24.8) and fifth in WHIP (1.144).

6. Billy Wagner (1995-2003)

Billy Wagner delivers a pitch on his way to an Astros 2-0 win, during the Houston Astros-Florida Marlins game Aug. 6, 2002 at Minute Maid Park.

Billy Wagner delivers a pitch on his way to an Astros 2-0 win, during the Houston Astros-Florida Marlins game Aug. 6, 2002 at Minute Maid Park.

Karen Warren/STAFF

“Billy The Kid” is the only reliever to make the list, and he belongs with everyone else and has a strong case to eventually be a Hall of Famer. His 225 saves in Houston lead the Astros’ all-time list as does his 1.039 WHIP and 12.385 strikeouts per nine innings. Wagner is the best Astros reliever of all-time, which includes other guys like Dave Smith, Brad Lidge and Joe Sambito.

5. Justin Verlander (2017-present)

Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches during Game 6 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in Houston.
Houston Astros starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches during Game 6 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, in Houston.Brett Coomer/Staff photographer

Verlander has only pitched two complete seasons with the Astros and won the American League Cy Young Award in one of those years and finished second in the other. At 39 years old, Verlander still could climb up this list. His 2019 season in which he went 21-6 with a 2.58 ERA and 300 strikeouts ranks as one of the best seasons an Astros pitcher has ever had. He was just as good the previous year when he went 16-9 with a 2.52 ERA and 290 strikeouts. The Astros traded for him in August 2017, and he proved to be the push the team needed to win the first World Series in franchise history.

4. J.R. Richard (1971-80) 

J.R. Richard delivers a pitcher for the Houston Astros in 1978 at the Astrodome.

J.R. Richard delivers a pitcher for the Houston Astros in 1978 at the Astrodome.

Carlos Antonio Rios/Houston Chronicle

The hard-throwing righthander already ranks among the Astros’ best in several statistical categories—third in strikeouts (1,493), fifth in wins (107), seventh in ERA (3.15) and seventh in WAR (21.5)—and that doesn’t even take into account that his career was tragically cut short at the age of 30 by a stroke in the middle of the 1980 season. Richard finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting in 1979 when he lead the league with a 2.71 ERA, and he had an even better first half in 1980, getting selected to start the All-Star Game when he got off to a 10-4 start with a 1.90 ERA. Sadly, a stroke in July ended his season and he never pitched in the big leagues again.

3. Larry Dierker (1964-76)

Larry Dierker #49 of the Houston Astros pitches during a Major League Baseball spring training game circa 1968. Dierker played for the Astros from 1964-76. 

Larry Dierker #49 of the Houston Astros pitches during a Major League Baseball spring training game circa 1968. Dierker played for the Astros from 1964-76. 

Focus On Sport/Getty Images

Dierker, who made his debut with the Colt .45s at the age of 18, was the franchise’s first ace. Sadly, he was the leader of bad teams as he never got to pitch in the postseason and pitched for just two Houston teams that finished with a winning record. Despite that, his 137 wins still ranks third in franchise history behind Joe Niekro and Roy Oswalt and his 34.3 WAR (wins above replacement) is second behind Oswalt. 

2. Nolan Ryan (1980-88)

Nolan Ryan pitches against the New York Mets in game 5 of the 1986 National League Championship series in New York.

Nolan Ryan pitches against the New York Mets in game 5 of the 1986 National League Championship series in New York.

Howard Castleberry, staff / Houston Chronicle

The Astros made Ryan the highest-paid player in the game when they signed him to a four-year, $4.5 million contract before the 1980 season and he rewarded Houston by leading it to its first postseason appearance. With Ryan on the mound against the Phillies in the final game of the 1980 NLCS, the Astros were six outs away from their first trip to a World Series before things fell apart. The game’s all-time strikeouts leader was even better in 1981, leading all of baseball with a 1.69 ERA. He won the National League ERA crown in 1987, but a year later, owner John McMullen insisted the 40-year-old Ryan take a paycut so he left for the Texas Rangers. After nine seasons with the Astros, Ryan is first among Astros pitchers in strikeouts (1,866), fourth among the franchise’s pitchers in WAR (25.4), sixth in ERA (3.13) and sixth in wins (106). 

1. Roy Oswalt (2001-10)

Houston Astros starting pitcher Roy Oswalt throws during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis, Friday, Sept. 19, 2003. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)
Houston Astros starting pitcher Roy Oswalt throws during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis, Friday, Sept. 19, 2003. (AP Photo/James A. Finley)JAMES A. FINLEY/STF

The Astros have had four pitchers win Cy Young Awards and Oswalt never finished better than third, but he’s still the franchise’s best pitcher of all-time. Oswalt never brought home the hardware, but he finished in the top five in Cy Young voting in five of his 10 seasons with the Astros. He was arguably the ace of the 2005 staff that also included Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and led the team to its first World Series in franchise history. His 143 wins—he won 20 games in a season twice—is second on the franchise’s all-time list, one behind Joe Niekro. His 45.7 WAR (wins above replacement) is by far the best for a starting pitcher in franchise history.



See also  Give Dallas Keuchel another Cy Young for way he dominated cheating 2015 Yankees
Copyright © All rights reserved. | Newsphere by AF themes.