THE ASTROS ALL-TIME TEAM - BULLPEN

Reliever #1: Dave Smith

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1980-90
762 innings, 2.53 ERA, 199 saves

Key comments:
"Steady, cool, and an intimidator out of the pen."

"All-Time leader in saves. Need I say more? "

"Terrific as a closer for a long, long time."

Reliever #2: Billy Wagner

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1995-2002
418 innings, 2.69 ERA, 181 saves

Key comments:
"Most dominating closer Astros have ever had."

"The most intimidating, unhittable reliever the Astros have ever had"

"Best talent. Wish he were a little smarter and could throw a good change up."

Reliever #3: Joe Sambito

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1976-84
536 innings, 2.42 ERA, 72 saves

Key comments:
"Good mix of speed and breaking stuff. A high confidence reliever."

"His 2.42 career ERA is still team all time best."

"This lefty was as good as anybody at closing out a game."

Reliever #4: Octavio Dotel

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 2000-02
327 innings, 3.46 ERA, 24 saves

Key comments:
"May prove to be best of them all over time. Great stuff & confidence."

"When he’s on his game, with both the fastball and the slider working, his stuff is harder to hit than Wagner’s."

Reliever #5: Danny Darwin

(c) Houston Astros
Seasons: 1986-90,1996
769 innings, 3.21 ERA, 12 saves

Key comments:
"This guy was a fire-eater. A true competitor."

"Very durable with rubber arm."

"Good enough to pitch well as a starter or a reliever, winning an ERA title in 1990."

Other mentions : Larry Andersen, Fred Gladding, Ken Forsch, Aurelio Lopez, Hal Woodeshick, Jim Owens

Full comments:

Gene Elston: - Joe Sambito - Dave Smith - Fred Gladding - Octavio Dotel - Jim Owens

Andy Tomczeszyn:
Danny Darwin, Octavio Dotel, Joe Sambito, Dave Smith, Billy Wagner. I like hard throwing pitchers. If I could find a way to leave off Wagner I would, because I'm pretty damn comfortable putting in 4 of these 5 in just about any situation. Except for one season, Wagner has never really made me feel like the game is over if he comes in, but I think he's closer because the others in the bullpen are too flexible to be limited to the closers role.

Bob Hulsey:
1) Billy Wagner (L): 90% of the time, it's lights out when Billy takes the mound.
2) Dave Smith (R): All-Time leader in saves. Need I say more?
3) Joe Sambito (L): If only his arm had stayed healthy...
4) Octavio Dotel (R): Hard to pass up Larry Andersen but it's also hard to overlook Dotel's numbers the past two seasons.
5) Ken Forsch (R): Houston's most versatile pitcher - excellent as a starter, closer, set-up man or mop-up pitcher.

Michael Nash:
1. Billy Wagner. 2. Dave Smith. 3. Joe Sambito - the Coif was also a pretty fair lefty. 4. Danny Darwin. 5. Octavio Dotel

Bill McCurdy:
1. Billy Wagner: Best talent. Wish he were a little smarter and could throw a good change up.
2. Dave Smith: Steady, cool, and an intimidator out of the pen.
3. Joe Sambito: Good mix of speed and breaking stuff. A high confidence reliever.
4. Octavio Dotel: May prove to be best of them all over time. Great stuff & confidence.
5. Larry Andersen: Smart guy who lulled many hitters into ground ball outs.

Jeff Burk:
1. Billy Wagner. 2. Larry Andersen. 3. Joe Sambito. 4. Dave Smith. 5. Octavio Dotel
The top five Astros relievers with at least 300 innings pitched in run-prevention are Billy Wagner (ERA+ 155), Larry Anderson (ERA+ 141), Joe Sambito (ERA+ 140), Dave Smith (ERA+ 136), and Octavio Dotel (ERA+ 133).

Greg Lucas:
1. Billy Wagner-- most dominating closer Astros have ever had
2. Dave Smith-- durable and still club leader in career saves into 2003
3. Joe Sambito- I’d probable shift him to set up man on this staff, but his 2.42 career ERA is still team all time best.
4. Danny Darwin- he makes the team as an all purpose long reliever/spot starter...very durable with rubber arm.
5. Hal Woodeshick- from the era when relievers might go long

Darrell Pittman:
#1 Dave Smith. Best closer in Astros history. This guy was lights-out when he came to the mound.
#2 Billy Wagner. Would that he had Dave Smith's control. Though with near-100 mph velocity, he's high in strikeouts, and walks.
#3 Aurelio Lopez. A solid middle-reliever that could eat innings.
#4 Larry Andersen. Another solid middle-reliever, and perhaps next to Turk Farrell, the club's best-ever clubhouse cutup.
#5 Danny Darwin. This guy was a fire-eater. A true competitor.

Ray Kerby:
1. Dave Smith - year after year of outstanding service as a closer back when closers often pitched the last two innings of a game.
2. Joe Sambito - great as a setup man or closer until his elbow blew out. His streak of 40 consecutive scoreless innings is still a club record.
3. Larry Andersen - kind of forgotten since he never racked up big save totals as a closer, but Andersen's career 2.57 ERA speaks for itself.
4. Ken Forsch - enjoyed success as a starter, closer and setup man. Could pitch anywhere, anytime, and pitch well.
5. Danny Darwin - Like Forsch, "Dr. Death" was good enough to pitch well as a starter or a reliever, winning an ERA title in 1990.

John Lauck:
The main criterion for selecting these five bullpen men is similar to that used for the starting pitchers: these five men are the ones who made us say, with utter conviction as they walked to the mound, “Game Over.”

1. Billy Wagner--The most intimidating, unhittable reliever the Astros have ever had, and, if he ever fully commands the slider, potentially one of the best closers in the history of the game.

2. Dave Smith--Just about as different from Wagner as it’s possible to be, Smith could throw hard, but his outs were gotten just as often on sinking breaking stuff. Terrific as a closer for a long, long time. Although he spent the final two seasons of his thirteen-year career with the Cubs, all of his wins (53) came as an Astro. He set the Astro record for saves (199) that Wagner will break someday if his health holds up.

3. Octavio Dotel--Whether you count him as a set-up man or as a closer, Dotel is already one of the top five relievers in Houston history. When he’s on his game, with both the fastball and the slider working, his stuff is harder to hit than Wagner’s.

4. Joe Sambito--Before he blew out his elbow, this lefty was as good as anybody at closing out a game. In his best years of an eleven-year major league career (1979-80) he and Frank LaCorte formed a left/right duo out of the bullpen that was, in its time, as intimidating as the present-day combination of Dotel and Wagner.

5. Fred Gladding--One of the best pickups (from Detroit) the Astros ever made, Gladding won 48 games for the Tigers and the Astros over a thirteen-year career and he saved 76 games for the Astros, third on the team’s all-time list. He was the mainstay of the Houston bullpen during its first run at a division title in 1969, and for four seasons thereafter. Gladding threw hard stuff and nothin’ but. He didn’t have razor-sharp control and, because of the glasses he wore, he often created the useful impression that he didn’t know where the next pitch was going; but, of course, he did. Gladding was utterly fearless on the mound, and it seemed to me that he thrived in the toughest spots imaginable: bases loaded, ninth inning, no outs, with the Astros up by a run.