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Astros History: Joe Sambito

I thought at one poitn we had highlighted Joe Sambito, but it appears we have yet to do so. Let us remedy that now by looking at a relief pitcher who posted a 140 ERA+ in eight seasons with Houston. That's good for third on the franchise ERA+ list, Billy Wagner and Roger Clemens are the only two former Astros pitchers ahead of him.

Drafted in the 17th round of the 1973 amateur draft, Sambito made his debut with the Astros three years later, July 20, 1976.

In 53.1 innings with Houston he posted a 3.54 ERA, and a 91 ERA+, in 20 games, four of which were starts. From that point forward, for Houston, he wouldn't post ERA+ below 108, primarily out of the bullpen. Four of his eight seasons saw him post an ERA+ of 151 or higher.

His best season, according to ERA+, came in 1979 when he posted a 1.77 ERA, 199 ERA+, in 91.1 innings. Those numbers led to his one and only All-Star selection and some MVP votes (finished 21st).

Curiously he only pitched 12.2 innings in 1982 and then didn't pitch at all in 1983. My guess is that it was some sort of injury, regardless he returned to form in 1984 when he posted a 110 ERA+ in 47.2 innings. That would be his last year with the Astros. He was released April 8, 1985 right before the season. He was picked up by the Mets but didn't pitch well and was eventually released before the 1985 season was out.

He would post a below average ERA+ in two years with the Boston Red Sox before finally hanging up his uniform, at the age of 35.

It's unfortunate that his career ended that way, but in the end he was one of the greatest pitchers to ever don an Astros uniform.