Again – YIE (Yes It’s Early), but…..this Astros’ starting rotation is already being heralded as an all time great staff. For the purposes of this blog post the task will be narrowed to comparing these five against great Astro rotations of the past. Yes, they might be compared against all-time baseball rotations like the 1954 Cleveland Indians, the 1960’s Dodgers or the 1970’s Orioles, but the research budget has been slashed during the recent economic downturn, plus the staff here does not want to attempt that task only to be told that the greatest staff belonged to the Cleveland Spiders of 1887.
Here is a look at some great Astros starting rotations…..PLEASE NOTE – where pitchers worked out of the ‘pen and the rotation, the stats given are as starters only…..
Ace Ventura, I mean Ace Justin Verlander has continued his stingy pitching from 2017 with a 1.10 ERA / 0.762 WHIP and 3 wins in his first 5 starts. Charlie Morton has been more frugal with a 0.72 ERA and 3 wins in his first 4 starts. Gerrit Cole has been almost as much of a Scrooge with a 2-1 record (not his fault) 1.29 ERA and 0.771 WHIP. Dallas Keuchel struggled a bit early, but his last two starts have been strong and he sits at 1-3 with a 3.10 ERA. One terrible 8 run inning has Lance McCullers Jr. with a 4.67 ERA and 1.444 WHIP. in his 26 other innings he has a terrific 2.08 ERA and he is coming off his best outing of the season.
The 2005 Astros rode their pitching, much more so than their hitting to the NL title and the World Series in 2005. Their top 3 in the rotation, Roy Oswalt (20-12, 2.94 ERA), Andy Pettitte (17-9, 2.39) and Roger Clemens (13-8, 1.87) were great, but past those three they gave 61 starts to the shaky triumvirate of Brandon Backe (10-8, 4.83 ERA), rookie Wandy Rodriguez (10-9, 5.41) and Ezequiel Astacio (3-6, 5.83).
Advantage 2018 – due to 4 and 5
The Astros were a good club but the addition of Randy Johnson (10-1, 1.28 ERA) at the trade deadline made them a dangerous club. The rest of the rotation plus one were solid – Shane Reynolds (19-8, 3.51), Jose Lima (16-8, 3.70), Mike Hampton (11-7, 3.36), Sean Bregman (12-8, 3.75) and Pete Schourek (7-6, 4.50).
Slight Advantage 2018 – better 2 thru 4
The Astros season ended in that 16 inning heartbreaker with the Mets, hoping for their ace Mike Scott (18-10, 2.22 ERA) to pitch in the 7th game that never happened. This team had a lot of good choices for filling out the rotation – Bob Knepper (16-12, 3.18), Nolan Ryan (12-8, 3.34), Jim Deshaies (12-5, 3.25), Danny Darwin (8-9, 3.26) and Matt Keough (2-3, 3.41) among others.
Slight Advantage – 1986 – This is almost a coin flip
The season began with a strike and ended up about 50 games short of a normal season and it sure looks like the pitching was ahead of the hitting. The Astros season ended in more heartbreak as they lost 3 straight to the Dodgers in a playoff after winning the first two games. Their five man rotation was nails. Nolan Ryan (11-5, 1.69 ERA), Bob Knepper (9-5, 2.18), Don Sutton (11-9, 2.61), Joe Niekro (9-9, 2.82) and Verne Ruhle (4-5, 2.87) all performed terrifically.
Advantage 1981 – Though how much the Astrodome and the strike shortened season played into these numbers….
This was a strength for a team that was only 79-83 on the season. They were led by the late Don Wilson (16-10, 2.46 ERA) and Larry Dierker (12-6, 2.72 ERA). Though they weren’t rewarded with wins, both Ken Forsch (8-8, 2.68) and Jack Billingham (10-16, 3.39) were good. The fifth spot was problematic between Wade Blasingame (9-11, 4.61) and Tom Griffin (0-4, 5.34). The most intriguing other starter was rookie J.R. Richard (2-1, 3.43) who opened eyes and scared the hell out of hitters in a short cup of coffee.
Advantage 2018 – The #5 spot clinches it
How do you rank these rotations?
Can the 2018 rotation end up the best?
Which rotation of the past was the most wasted in the playoffs?