Finally, there’s a case to be made for the best closer in Astros history: Billy Wagner. “Billy the Kid” is fifth all-time in the MLB in saves and 255 of his 422 career saves came as a member of the Astros. Other then Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, Wagner might be the best closer from the last 25 years of baseball. From 1995-2003, opposing teams feared facing the Astros in the ninth inning because of Wagner’s fastball. He was a seven-time All-Star and had a 2.31 career ERA in 15 major league seasons. He has the record of 15 strikeouts per 9 innings that he set in 1999. Perhaps his best season was 2003 when he had a career-high 44 saves and threw a league leading 159 pitches at 100 mph or above (second was Bartolo Colon with 12). He finished his career serving short stints with the Mets, Phillies, Braves, and Red Sox before retiring in 2010.
Wagner was never apart of any great Astros playoffs runs and eventually criticized the front office for that. His most memorable moment was on June 11, 2003 when he closed out the Astros no-hitter at Yankee Stadium. It took six pitchers, but it was the only time the Yankees had been no-hit since 1958. Wagner was actually born right-handed but broke his arm as a kid and taught himself to throw lefty. Now, he is one considered of the greatest left-handed pitchers in MLB history. In his nine seasons with the Astros, Wagner collected 225 saves, 694 strikeouts, 191 walks, and a 12.4 SO/9 innings ratio while maintaing a 2.53 ERA. I don’t the Astros will end up retiring his number, but Wagner certainly has a place in Houston baseball history.