IP HR BB IBB SO FIP Wandy Rodriguez* 45 0 15 1 37 2.56 Roy Oswalt 38 7 12 1 24 5.28 Mike Hampton* 33 3 15 1 26 4.17 Russ Ortiz 21.1 1 20 0 15 5.24 Brian Moehler 9 1 4 0 6 4.64
This table shows the performance of the Astros’ starting pitching to date. I’ve left out Felipe Paulino’s three spot starts. FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is a statistical way of creating a number similar to ERA but based entirely on things pitchers can control — walks, homers and strikeouts.
Not much doubt who the star of the staff is at this point, and it’s not Roy Oswalt. Oswalt had an ugly start last year, too, remember. He was on pace to give up 7,000 home runs for a while, but after the first seven starts, he stopped giving up home runs, allowing only 14 for the rest of the year. In fact, Oswalt’s first seven starts last year were quite similar to his first seven this year, and he was excellent for the rest of the year. So there’s some hope there.
Wandy Rodriguez has been one of the best pitchers in the league, though. He did a near-perfect job against the Padres, going eight innings with no walks, no homers and seven strikeouts. It also makes clear that the gap-plugging job that is the starting rotation needs some improvement quickly.
One of Brian Moehler, Mike Hampton and Russ Ortiz needs to get better. The best bet is Hampton, who has been within an out or two of turning in a strong starton a couple of occasions only to see the game unravel in the sixth or seventh inning. He’s had only one dreadful start. He’s walked a few guys too many, and he’s had only one really good start. But you can see how a pitcher coming back from an injury might need some time to figure things out again.