This has to be my least-anticipated entry of the entire project, but who else was I going to choose for the Astros? Barely anyone made the sets that year, but of course, the 1989 Astros weren’t too bad, and they were stuck in between Biggio and Bagwell/Luis Gonzalez’s debuts. And Clancy was a thoroughly pedestrian pickup.
Clancy signed with the Astros in December 1988. It was a three-year contract worth 3.45 million, or 1.15 million on average (he’d actually make 900,000 in 1989, a respectable sum for that time). He’d had an okay year in 1988 with the Blue Jays, going 11-13 with a 4.49 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. Sports writers, being sports writers, asked whether he was being signed to fill the shoes of Nolan Ryan, who had departed to join the Rangers. Clancy brushed it off, of course, as the two pitchers had nothing in common. He did, however, say that he could go out and pitch 200-250 innings a year for the Astros. His IP total in 1989? 147. And that would be his high for the years there.
So tell me if this rotation sounds like a recipe for success: Clancy, Mike Scott, Bob Knepper, Bob Forsch, and Jim Deshaies. If you answered no, congrats, and you’re smarter than then-GM Bill Wood. Scott was a 20-game winner, and Deshaies was good, but Knepper went 4-10 with a 5.89 ERA, Clancy went 7-14 with a 5.08 ERA, and Forsch ended up in the pen for the year. But hey, Clancy did lead the team in Intentional walks. And his first outing with the Astros was a good one – he had 8 strikeouts in 8 innings against the Padres, including two each against Roberto Alomar, Jack Clark, and Garry Templeton. Astros fans had reason to be optimistic, but it was all downhill from there.
Clancy stuck around for 89, 90, and part of 91, getting dealt at the 91 trade deadline ahead of free agency. He seemed happy to have been dealt – he knew it was coming, and he knew people in Atlanta. Not to mention he’d been something of a bust for the Astros. He was traded for Matt Turner and Earl Sanders, neither of which would suit up in Houston, so the whole Clancy thing was an overall bust. Clancy finished out 1991 as a reliever for Atlanta, and his career was done.