Is this the best starting rotation in Astros franchise history?
1998: Randy Johnson, Mike Hampton, Shane Reynolds, Jose Lima, Sean Bergman
1998 was the year the Astros really went for it, shipping off a package of prospects for The Big Unit. Johnson was absolutely brilliant in his brief run with Houston, posting a 10-1 record and microscopic 1.28 ERA in the regular season. He also pitched to a 1.93 ERA in two postseason starts, though he would lose them both.
Hampton’s 1999 season was better, but he still put up a 3.36 ERA in ’98 with 11 wins over 211.2 innings. He was an excellent No. 2 starter to put behind Johnson and tossed six innings of one-run ball in his only playoff start that year.
Reynolds had a nice run with the Astros for a few years, and this was one of his better seasons. He won a career-best 19 games with a 3.51 ERA, striking out 209 batters. For some odd reason, he did not get a single Cy Young vote that year.
It’s Lima Time! The dearly departed Lima mostly pitched poorly throughout his career, but had a good two-season run in ’98 and ’99. In this season, he won 16 games with a 3.70 ERA, leading the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio while throwing 233.1 innings.
This was by far Bergman’s best season, winning 12 games with a 3.72 ERA. It was also his only full season with the Astros, as he bounced around and finished with a career ERA north of 5.00.
While one could argue that Johnson is superior to any pitcher the Astros currently have in their rotation, the same cannot be said about the rest. Hampton was an excellent pitcher for a long time but didn’t quite break through to being a true ace. The remaining three pitchers were solid in this particular season, but this 2019 team has three legitimate aces plus Miley. This is an easy call.