My All Time Astros Starting Rotation

Humble me with HOF Pitcher Phil Niekro (L) and Joe Niekro, one of my All Time Astros Starters (2005).

Based upon their record-setting years, my personal memories and evaluations of each, and by easy reference to the critical supportive data available to us from the folks at Baseball Almanac, here are my choices for My All Time Houston Astros 5-Man Starting Rotation:

(1) Mike Scott (1986) 18-10, 2.22 era (306 k, 1 no-no)

(2) J.R. Richard (1979) 18-13, 2.71 era (313 k)

(3) Roger Clemens (2004) 18-4, 2.98 era (218 k, Cy Young NL)

(4) Joe Niekro (1979) 21-11, 3.00 era (119 k)

(5) Roy Oswalt (2005) 20-12, 2.94 era (184 k)

My only overriding criterion was that I would force myself to choose players for a single season performance as a member of the Houston Astros. Three of my favorite past Astros pitchers, Nolan Ryan, Larry Dierker, and Don Wilson, didn’t make the cut because I could not justify that any of them had an Astros year that surpassed the performances of the five men on my selection list.

What are your own picks for an all time starting Houston Astros five over the first half century of the franchise (1962-2011)? 

Please pick your own guys and post them as replies to this column. I will be especially interested to see if you can find a lefty that justifies bumping any of the far more numerous right-handed candidates for consideration as members of this honorable group.

Here are some of the Baseball Almanac lists and links that helped me settle upon my own picks:

 

Houston Astros No-Hitters
Name IP Date
Don Nottebart 9.0 05-17-1963
Ken Johnson 9.0 04-23-1964
Don Wilson 9.0 06-18-1967
Don Wilson 9.0 05-01-1969
Larry Dierker 9.0 07-09-1976
Ken Forsch 9.0 04-07-1979
Nolan Ryan 9.0 09-26-1981
Mike Scott 9.0 09-25-1986
Darryl Kile 9.0 09-08-1993
Roy Oswalt 1.0 06-11-2003
   Peter Munro 2.2
   Kirk Saarloos 1.1
   Brad Lidge 2.0
   Octavio Dotel 1.0
   Billy Wagner 1.0

Houston Astros E.R.A Leaders

1979: J.R. Richard  (2.71)

1981: Nolan Ryan (1.69)

1986: Mike Scott (2.22)

1987: Nolan Ryan (2.76)

1990: Danny Darwin (2.21)

2005: Roger Clemens (1.87)

2006: Roy Oswalt (2.98)

 

Houston Astros No-Hitters
Name IP Date
Don Nottebart 9.0 05-17-1963
Ken Johnson 9.0 04-23-1964
Don Wilson 9.0 06-18-1967
Don Wilson 9.0 05-01-1969
Larry Dierker 9.0 07-09-1976
Ken Forsch 9.0 04-07-1979
Nolan Ryan 9.0 09-26-1981
Mike Scott 9.0 09-25-1986
Darryl Kile 9.0 09-08-1993
Roy Oswalt 1.0 06-11-2003
   Peter Munro 2.2
   Kirk Saarloos 1.1
   Brad Lidge 2.0
   Octavio Dotel 1.0
   Billy Wagner 1.0

Bold = Perfect Game

 

Houston Astros Strikeout Champions
Year Name   #
1978 J.R. Richard 303
1979 J.R. Richard 313
1986 Mike Scott 306
1987 Nolan Ryan 270
1988 Nolan Ryan 228

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7 Responses to “My All Time Astros Starting Rotation”

  1. Bill Brown Says:

    Bill, Very interesting work and enjoyable to read. Loved the photo with the Niekros! Did you find yourself fluttering up and down standing between them? Regards, Brownie

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      ” Did you find yourself fluttering up and down standing between them? Regards, Brownie ”

      “Fluttering?” – Brownie, if i had been a Niekro-Knuckler in that magic digital photo moment, I would have been absolutely unhittable as I floated away down Loop 610.

  2. Bob Dorrill Says:

    Bill: I think lefty Mike Hampton’s 1999 season ranks right up there with your right handed starters. Hampton had a 21-4 record with an era of 2.90 and 117 K’s.

  3. Wayne Roberts Says:

    Yeah, if you have to have a lefty, Hampton would be there. Also, Mike Cuellar in 1967 (16-11, 3.03 ERA, 203K) is close with a mediocre team, at best. Too bad we traded him as he hit his prime. We traded him & Elijah Johnson for Curt Blefary and John Mason. Yikes. I don’t recall Blefary getting a Cy Young (I know, I know) though he did get a ROY. Blefary lasted one year and went to NYY for Joe Pepitone, so view that as Cuellar for Pepitone. I didn’t know that Cuellar died in 2010, and Blefary in 2001 (at 58). Way too young for both of them.

  4. Bob Hulsey Says:

    If the criteria is individual season accomplishments, I would rank:

    1. Larry Dierker (1969) 20-13, 2.33 ERA, 20 CG*, 4 SO, 232K
    2. Mike Scott (1986) 18-10, 2.22 ERA, 7 CG, 3 SO, 306K
    3. Mike Hampton (1999) 22*-4, 2.90 ERA, 3 CG, 2 SO, 177K
    4. J.R. Richard (1979) 18-13, 2.71 ERA, 19 CG, 4 SO, 313K*
    5. Roger Clemens (2005) 13-8,1.87 ERA, 1 CG, 0 SO, 185K

    * – are franchise records.

    The first four are very dominant seasons. The last spot is a toughie. Do you take Clemens’ 2004 Cy Young campaign or his 2005 season which was statistically better other than wins and losses? Do you take Joe Niekro’s important 1980 season (I almost did) or his statistically better 1982 season with a few less wins? Do you take either of Roy Oswalt’s sensational 2004 or 2005 efforts?

    There are some very dominant partial seasons (Richard in 1980, Ryan in 1981, Johnson in 1998) that are hard to dismiss but I felt I had to. It’s also difficult to contrast eras where starters often worked the whole game versus today when they almost never.

    However, with this starting five I acknowledge every decade and get a lefty on the squad as well.

  5. Natalie Niekro Says:

    There is not doubt that this rotation would dominant anyone. True team leaders and strong players – these men would crush any rotation in the league.

  6. gary Says:

    I would have to look at it in more detail, but Dierker was awesome in 1969, and at first glance I would think he should be on this list.

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