Pedro Astacio: Early 2000's Mets Pitcher (2002 - 2003)

Pedro Julio Astacio was born November 28, 1969, in Pilar Rondon in the Dominican Republic. He grew up on a rural farm raised by his father, after his other's passing when Pedro was just eight years old. He had three sisters & two brothers as well. 

In 1987 the six foot two, 19-year-old right hander signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

He was brought up to the Dodgers in 1992 at age 23, pitching a five-hit shutout over the Phillies, striking out ten. In his rookie season, he was up & down to the minors going 5-5 with an impressive 1.98 ERA for the last place Dodgers. 

In 1993 he was 14-9 with a 3.57 ERA tossing four shut outs (third best in the NL). His wins were best on the fourth place Dodgers staff that season. That season Mile Piazza was his batterymate, winning the Rookie of the Year Award.

Astacio would pitch five and a half seasons in Los Angeles (1992-1997) going 48-47 with a .368 ERA, striking out over 100 batters four times in those years. He had problems with his control as well as his mental state. He gave up a lot of HRs but also put in some great pitching performances. The Dodgers were unsure about his future with the club as the staff got better. Another problem pitching coach Ron Perranoski had with him was the language barrier as Pedro didn't speak much English. 

After the 1994 Players Strike, the Dodgers were back in first place for 1995. Astacio was being.
used as both starter & reliever going 7-8. 

1995 Post Season: He made three appearances in the NLDS loss to the Reds. In Game #1 he pitched two shutout innings of relief striking out four. 

In 1996 he was back in starting rotation making 32 starts. He went 9-8 with a 3.44 ERA. He & Tom Candiotti both won nine games behind 16 game winner Hideo Nomo & 15 game winners Ismael Valdez & Ramon Martinez. 

1996 Post Season: In the NLDS loss to the Braves, Astacio pitched 1.2 shutout innings in Game #2.

Drama with Bill Russell:
In 1997 there were changes in Los Angeles, after 21 seasons Tommy Lasorda was no longer the manager, with Bill Russell replacing him. In a nationally televised game with the Cardinals, Russell yanked Astacio after giving up five runs. 

The two had a shoving match in the dugout & coach Joe Amaltifano had to restrain Astacio. Russel had had an issue with Ismael Valdez three days earlier. After the game Pedro apologized to the media but the damage was done.

In August he was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Eric Young. He would spend parts of five
seasons in Colorado as a starter. In his first season, there were high expectations for the Rockies under manager Don Baylor. 

Pedro won 13 games but lost 14. The Rocky Mountain air affected him too, he posted a 6.23 ERA, he gave up the most HRs in the league (39) the most earned runs (145) & hit the most batters (17). The Rockies finished fourth.

In 1999 he had a career high 17 wins & 210 strike outs (third most in the NL) although he posted a 5.04 ERA & gave up a league leading 37 HRs. 
Pedro would win 12 games or more three straight seasons with the Rockies. 

Drama: In 1999 he pleaded guilty to domestic violence after striking his pregnant wife Ana in the face. He was not suspended or fined but heard the boos from the fans. He avoided jail time but got two years deferred judgment. He & his wife reconciled. He was almost deported as the trials dragged on but eventually the deportation was abandoned.

In 2000 he went 12-9 with a 5.27 ERA getting traded to the Houston Astros on the trade deadline.  He left the Rockies as their all-time strikeout leader with 749 Ks. 

Mets Career: Prior to the 2002 season Pedro signed a $7 million contract with the New York Mets. At the time he was diagnosed with a torn labrum but chose not to have surgery.

With the Mets Astacio would be reunited with his former Dodger batterymate, Mike Piazza.

In the fourth game of the season, Pedro made his Mets debut in Atlanta. He pitched into the 7th inning allowing just three runs & striking out seven earning the victory.

 On April 11th he pitched into the 8th inning at Wrigley Field, striking out a season high nine batters in a 3-2 win over the Cubs.

On April 16th, in his Shea Stadium debut, Astacio pitched a one run complete game against the rival Braves. He allowed eight hits, striking out eight batters & walking no one, lowering his ERA to .196.
 
In his next start he took his first loss coming in Montreal. On April 27th he allowed just one run to the Brewers in eight innings of work. He fanned just two but walked just one scattering a mere three hits. 

On May 5th, he earned his fifth win finding himself at 5-1 with 34 strikeouts & 2.54 ERA. It was a pleasant surprise to a team that was not doing so well.

Shut Out: On May 14th, Pedro pitched a two-hit shutout in Los Angeles beating his old Dodger teammates 3-0. The offense was led by a Roger Cedeno HR & Edgardo Alfonzo RBI single.

His next win didn't come until June 10th, five starts later. In that game he only allowed a run on five hits in seven innings in Chicago in a win over the White Sox. In July he went 3-0 in five starts.
On July 19th he earned his tenth win of the year, coming in Cincinnati where he gave up just two runs in seven innings.

Astacio was 10-3 by the All-Star break, among the league leaders in wins, strike outs & ERA. He developed a mature outlook in preparing for games & was also mentoring the team's younger pitchers. He earned the nickname mule because he was carrying the team into the late innings.

On August 1st, he took a rough 3-1 loss to the Astros Roy Oswalt, where he gave up just two runs. On August 6th Astacio pitched his second complete game of the year, a one run three hit performance, where he struck out ten Brewers in Milwaukee. The win got him to 11-4 & lowered his ERA to 2.95.

But from there Pedro's arm troubles finally caught up with him. He pitched in pain each time losing seven of last eight decisions, he gave up 54 earned runs with 17 HRs in 45 innings of work in nine appearances. He ended the season at 12-11 with a 4.79 ERA. His 12 wins were second on the staff to Al Leiter. Astacio led the NL in HRs allowed (32) & hit by pitches (16). He struck out 152 batters walking 63 in 191 innings in 31 starts.

2003: The next season Art Howe was the new Mets manager; the team was terrible going 66-95. Pedro started out on the DL & would only pitch in seven games going 3-2 with a 7.36 ERA. He struck out 20 & walked 18, allowing 47 hits giving up 30 runs in 36 innings pitched. At the end of May he was diagnosed with the torn labrum and was done for the season.  

Mets Career Stats: He finished his Mets career at 13-15 with a 5.20 ERA, 172 strike outs 81 walks in 228.1 innings pitched in 38 starts. 


Post Mets Career: In 2004 he briefly appeared in five games for the World Champion Boston Red Sox then went to pitch for the Texas Rangers (2005) San Diego Padres (2005) & Washington Nationals (2006) finishing his career there. 

Career Stats: In a 15-year career Astacio went 129-1224 with a 4.67 ERA, 1664 strike outs,726 walks in 392 games. He allowed 291 HRs hit 111 batters & walked 726 men in 2196 innings in 392 games.

Retirement: Pedro was married twice & has three children. He was recently living on a ranch one mile away from former Mets reliever Armando Benitez in the Dominican Republic. At the time of his retirement, he was the fourth most winning Dominican pitcher.

Astacio is also an amateur Jai Lai player and has applied for Pakistani citizenship so he may compete in the annual National Jai Lai Championships there.

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