Dwight Gooden had a very brief tenure with the Astros in 2000.
CTH is starting an offseason series that takes a look at players many fans have forgotten played for the Astros. The criteria is simple — these are players who were with the Astros for a relatively brief time and are more known for their contributions to other teams. The first player in this series is none other than Dwight Gooden.
Gooden’s time with the Astros was about as brief as it could be — he made only one appearance. The Astros signed him as a free agent prior to the 2000 season and he made the starting rotation. He started the second regular season game at the new Enron Field (now Minute Maid Park) after the team lost the first game the day before.
Gooden didn’t pitch particularly well, allowing four runs in four innings against Philadelphia and earning a no-decision. But the team rebounded to win the game and record their first win in the new ballpark. Ken Caminiti and Moises Alou homered and drove in three runs apiece for the home squad.
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Before Gooden could make another start, the Astros shipped him to Tampa Bay. He saw poor results with the Devil Rays before being released and catching on with the Yankees. He threw 64.1 serviceable innings in the Bronx that year, and they would prove to be his final major league innings.
Where He Made His Name
Gooden was a first round draft pick of the Mets in 1982 and made his big league debut in 1984 at the age of 19. He was an absolute phenom, notching 17 wins with a 2.60 ERA and leading the major leagues in strikeouts his first year. He finished second in the Cy Young Award voting and won the Rookie of the Year Award.
His 1985 season was one of the best the game has ever seen. He led the majors in wins (24), ERA (1.53) and strikeouts (268) while also leading the National League in complete games (16) and innings (276.2). He won the Cy Young that year, of course.
Gooden was a big part of the Mets 1986 championship team and remained integral to the team’s success for several more years, although he never quite matched his mid-1980s dominance. Things unfortunately fell apart for him in the mid-1990s as he continued to battle drug and alcohol addiction.
All told, he had a 10-year run with the Mets that was exceptional, but that run ended with his age-28 season. He missed most of 1994 and all of 1995 as a result of drug suspensions, and afterward only seldom resembled the pitcher from his earlier days.
His tenure in Houston was neither long nor memorable, but Gooden was one of the game’s best pitchers in his heyday and donned an Astros uniform near the end. You’d be hard pressed to find many pitchers who were better than he was in his prime.