The Houston Astros have been home to some of the best pitching talents in the game of baseball, which makes this list a bit tough to make. With lots, and I mean lots, of talent to choose from, here’s my picks for the Astros all-time rotation.
1. Nolan Ryan
What better way to start the list with perhaps one of the most iconic pitchers to ever play in the MLB? Nolan Ryan became the first player in MLB history to earn more than one million in a season in 1980 when he inked a four-year, four and a half million dollar contract with the Astros. Ryan ended up pitching nine seasons with the Astros, and his stats were as follows:
106-94 record, 3.13 ERA, 1,866 strikeouts(Astros franchise record), 38 complete games, and 13 shutouts.
Ryan was named an All-Star twice with Houston and also led the National League in ERA (2.76) and strikeouts (270) as a 40-year-old in 1987. Ryan threw his fifth no-hitter in his career with the Astros and was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.
2. Mike Scott
Similar to Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott also played nine seasons with the Astros. Scott was traded to the Astros in 1982 from the New York Mets. The trade at first was average as both players involved in the trade hadn’t had a great season prior. Scott struggled during his first four seasons with the Mets and even struggled during his first seasons with Houston, but his legendary 1986 season is why he earns a spot on this list.
Mike Scott became one of the best pitchers in the league during the ’86 season, mostly since he learned one of his best pitches, the splitter. Scott’s stats as an Astro are as follows:
110-81 record, 3.30 ERA, 1,318 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.44.
Scott became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter during a clinching situation as he no-hit the Giants to clinch an NL West title. Scott also became the first player to win the NLCS MVP honors while pitching for the losing team. Those were just some of Scott’s ’86 season stats, these are the rest:
18 wins, 2.22 ERA (NL Lead), 306 strikeouts, and the NL Cy Young award.
3. J.R Richard
J.R Richard‘s career was short-lived compared to other pitchers on this list, as he only played just ten seasons in the MLB. Richard was drafted by the Astros in the first round of the 1969 MLB draft, and shortly became a force in their rotation. Richard’s career was on track for a spot in the Hall of Fame until it was sadly cut short due to a career-ending stroke he suffered during the 1980 season. Richard’s career stats were as follows:
107-71 record, 3.15 ERA, 1,493 strikeouts, 76 complete games, and 19 shutouts.
Richard and Ryan quickly became one of the best duos in baseball. Richard also was the first pitcher in Astros history to lead the majors in single-season strikeouts (303) and is still the only pitcher in Astros history to lead the MLB in strikeouts in back-to-back seasons.
Richard sadly passed away on August 4th, 2021 from COVID complications.
4. Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt defined a new era in Astros baseball when he debuted in 2001. Oswalt was drafted by the Astros in the 23rd round of the 1996 MLB draft. Oswalt had a monster debut season in 2001 in which he boasted a 14-3 record and a 2.73 ERA which ultimately fell short of the NL Rookie of the Year honors. Oswalt would continue to hold his own in the Astros rotation that at the time featured star players such as Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens.
Oswalt would win the NLCS MVP in 2005, and during his time in Houston he would finish second in franchise history in wins with 143, second in strikeouts with 1,593, third in innings pitched, and fifth in ERA. Oswalt’s stats with the Astros were as follows:
143-82 record, 3.24 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.196.
The “Wizard of O’s” was eventually traded during the Astros rebuilding years in 2010 to the Phillies.
5. Justin Verlander
Justin Verlander came to the Astros in a midseason trade during the Astros 2017 championship season from the Detriot Tigers. Since being traded to the Astros, Verlander has been a consistent force in the rotation, winning the AL Cy Young award in 2019. Justin is on pace for the Hall of Fame, and he has stats to back it up, these are his numbers since joining Houston:
43-15 record, 640 strikeouts, an ERA of 2.45, and a WHIP of 0.83.
Verlander made only one start during the 2020 season, before suffering a season-ending elbow injury. The Astros resigned Verlander this off-season to a two-year $50 million contract with a player option. Verlander has proven to be a force for the Astros, and he’s coming off Tommy John surgery so he’s hungry to get back to work.
Agree with my picks? Did I forget someone? Let me know in the comments below and as always you can find me on Twitter @KeganCrawford for more of my content.
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