Houston Astros All-Time ERA Leaders 2
The Houston Astros came into the league the same year as the New York Mets, in 1962 as an expansion franchise. The Astros have been mostly competitive over the years, but have not won a championship yet. They did make it to the World Series in 2005 but lost to the White Sox. The ‘Stros have always had good pitching, too, and what follows is a short list of the team’s all-time leaders to date in ERA:
Roger Clemens (2.40)—Roger Clemens, despite all of the steroid allegations, had one brilliant career with four different teams. One of those teams was the Astros, and since Clemens grew up in Houston it was sort of a homecoming in 2004, and he pitched there for three seasons, including the 2005 season when he helped lead them to the World Series. Clemens leads the Astros all-time with a 2.40 ERA, and while he had several Cy Young seasons for the Yankees, Blue Jays and Red Sox, Clemens did post his all-time best ERA with the Astros in 2005, a 1.87 mark. That year, he also went 13-8 with 185 strikeouts in 211 innings pitched.
Joe Sambito (2.42)—Joe Sambito pitched for the Astros from 1976 to 1984, and he ranks second in franchise history with a 2.42 ERA. Sambito’s career best 0.71 earned run average was in only 9 games in 1982, but his best overall season was probably 1979. That year, Sambito went 8-7 with a 1.77 ERA, career high 22 saves and 83 strikeouts in 91 innings of work.
Dave Smith (2.53)—Closer Dave Smith pitched for Houston most of his career, from 1980 to 1990, and he ranks third in the team’s history with a 2.53 ERA. Smith posted his best ERA in 1987, a 1.65 mark, and that year he also went 2-3 with 24 saves and 73 strikeouts in just 60 innings pitched. Sadly, Smith passed away of a heart attack in 2008 at the age of 43.
Billy Wagner (2.53)—Billy Wagner began his career in Houston and pitched there from 1995 to 2003. Wagner ranks tied for third with Smith in Astros’ history with a 2.53 earned run average. He had probably his best season with Houston in 1999, when Wagner went 4-1 with a 1.57 ERA, 39 saves and a whopping 124 strikeouts in just 74 innings of work.
Mike Cuellar (2.74)—Most people remember Mike Cuellar from his days with the pitching-rich Baltimore Orioles of the early ‘70’s. But he pitched in Houston for a few years before that, from 1965 to 1968. Cuellar ranks fifth in franchise history with a 2.74 ERA, and despite winning the AL Cy Young with Baltimore in 1969, Cuellar had his best ERA in 1966 with Houston. That year, he went 12-10 with a 2.22 ERA and 175 strikeouts.
Nolan Ryan (3.13)—I usually do a top 5, but I felt it was important to include Ryan on here, since he is one of the greatest players ever and was so important to both the Astros and Rangers since he grew up in Texas. Ryan pitched in Houston from 1980 to 1988 and ranks sixth in the team’s history with a 3.13 ERA. Ryan was dominant for most of his illustrious career, but his best earned run average mark was set with Houston in the strike-shortened 1981 season. That year, Ryan went 11-5 with a 1.69 ERA (led the National League) and 140 strikeouts in 149 innings pitched.