8) Team Pitching Staff ERA: 31st out of 60
No Houston pitching squad has ever topped the 1981 team who finished with a ridiculously low team ERA of 2.66. Nolan Ryan, Joe Niekro, and Don Sutton, anyone? That year, the Ryan Express turned in a 1.69 ERA through 21 starts.
The ’21 Astros finished with a 3.76 ERA, respectably below 4.00, but only good for a 31st place finish in franchise history. In fairness, the game has changed and the amount of earned runs over different eras has fluctuated for a variety of reasons—so maybe not the best metric to judge the ’21 Astros. But, hey—Lance McCullers, José Urquidy, and Zack Greinke all have World Series pitching experience going into this postseason.
9) Team Pitching Staff Strikeouts: 4th out of 60
Well, even if the ’21 Astros’ team ERA did not register as historically good, the pitching staff’s strikeout numbers certainly do. This season, Houston finished with the franchise’s fourth highest strikeout total since its inception, fanning a collective 1,456 batters on the season. The Astros’ best strikeout year came in 2018, courtesy of an elite rotation anchored by none other than Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander. The 2018 Astros struck out a mind-blowing 1,687 batters.
10) Team Pitching Staff Strikeouts per Nine Innings: 4th out of 60
The pitching staff finished the ’21 season with the fourth highest total of strike outs per nine innings pitched in franchise history. This statistic speaks to the dominance and quality of the pitching staff’s collective arsenal of pitches to retire batters frequently via the strike out.
While this year’s team averaged 9.07 strike outs per game, the best mark in franchise history belongs to the 2017 Astros, who averaged fanning 10.44 batters per nine innings.
11) Surrendered Home Runs per Nine Innings Pitched: 50th out of 60
One drawback to the ’21 pitching staff has been its propensity to surrender the long ball. Of all 60 Astros teams ever fielded, the ’21 squad ranks 50th worst in how frequently they have allowed opposing teams to hit home runs, averaging 1.16 per game. Then again—maybe Verlander is on to something—maybe the balls just might fly further now.