Red Sox: What if Roger Clemens never left in free agency?

Houston Astros former players Jeff Bagwell (left) and Roger Clemens (right) throw out a ceremonial first pitch before a game against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park.
Houston Astros former players Jeff Bagwell (left) and Roger Clemens (right) throw out a ceremonial first pitch before a game against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park. /
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Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

 Roger Clemens in Houston

Oh Roger. That’s what baseball fans were thinking after retiring and being done with baseball, he decided that he wasn’t done after all. And while his last season in New York looked like he was done, he was again able to turn back the clock. Just like in 1996 when he looked done leaving Boston, he fooled us again. Fool me once shame on you, fool me me twice, shame on me, the expression couldn’t have been more accurate.

Clemens kicked it into another notch, getting 18 wins at age 41. He posted an 18-4 record with a 2.98 ERA and registered 218 strike outs in 214 1/3rd innings. It was the 14th time in his career where he had hit 200+ innings pitched and the 12th time in his career to record 200+ strikeouts.

Roger just wasn’t going away. In his first year in Houston, the Astros got as far as the National League Championship Series where they were knocked out, losing in seven games to the Cardinals. The year did finish with some great news as Clemens had won his 7th Cy Young Award. Clemens also became the first player to win the award with four different teams. Only three other pitchers won four Cy Young Awards and all three have been enshrined in Cooperstown.

Historic Season at age 42

Still once again, the Rocket posted unreal numbers. In 2005, at age 42, Clemens posted a 1.87 ERA, the second best of his 24 year career. In 10 of the games that he started, he didn’t allow a single earned run including three in a row in April which brought his season ERA down to 0.32 after his 4th start of the season.

Clemens looked like he could do no wrong. Six of those starts he didn’t get a decision. In 2005, the Astros made it to the World Series for the first time in their team’s history. Unfortunately, due to a hamstring pull, he was limited to just two innings and the White Sox eventually swept the Astros in four straight games.

Clemens’ career numbers in Houston were nothing to smirk at either. Due to his dynamic start in Houston, his numbers again looked above average and considering his age, he did great.

Roger Clemens Numbers in Houston

Seasons – 3
ERA – 2.40
Wins – 38
Losses – 18
Innings Pitched – 539.0
Strike Outs – 505
Complete Games – 1
Shut Outs – 0

Finally after making it official again, Clemens decided that he was done with baseball and would announce his retirement after the World Baseball Classic in 2006. While he signed a lucrative contract to pitch in Houston for a third season, it was prorated as he joined the team officially in June. Never living up to the hype, age had finally caught the best of the Rocket. Finally the fire was getting put out and the fumes could be seen.

The Rocket never pitched past 7 innings in any game during his 2006 campaign. In the last year of his time with Houston, Clemens posted a 2.30 ERA with a 7 – 6 record. After retiring, un-retiring, retiring, re-ti…you get the idea, he was almost done with one more stop.