Fernando sets rookie record with eighth shutout thirty three years ago today


Fernando started the season with five shutouts in his first seven major league starts. Basically every game Fernando started he was rewriting history during Fernandomania.

What Fernando did in his first 8 starts was a streak for the ages: 8 wins, 7 complete games, 5 shutouts and 4 earned runs surrendered in his first 72 innings. In streaks of over 80 innings, only Bob Gibson’s 3 earned runs in 103 innings In 1968 was better than Fernando’s 4 earned runs in 89 2⁄3 innings dating back to 1980

His fifth shutout came on May 8th, he would not pitch his sixth shutout until Aug 16th. Of course the MLBP strike shut him down for two months (June 12th – Aug 10th). From Aug 16th – Sept 17th Fernando would throw three shutouts as readied himself for his historic 1981 postseason run.

These eight shutouts still rank as the best in baseball for a rookie. Note the age compared to others who are on the leaderboard. Many rookies have thrown five shutouts, I’ve included only the Dodger pitchers who accomplished the feat. You can also note the name of Don Newcombe. Newcombe in his Rookie season also won the ROY and Cy Young award, just like Fernando.  Strange to see they were the only two pitchers to even win ROY on this leaderboard.

Player                          SHO Year Age  Tm    IP   H  ER  SO  ERA  FIP ERA+
Fernando Valenzuela (RoY-1st)     8 1981  20 LAD 192.1 140  53 180 2.48 2.44  135
Reb Russell                       8 1913  24 CHW 316.2 250  67 122 1.90 2.68  154
Russ Ford                         8 1910  27 NYY 299.2 194  55 209 1.65 1.88  160
Jerry Koosman (RoY-2nd)           7 1968  25 NYM 263.2 221  61 178 2.08 2.70  145
Pete Alexander                    7 1911  24 PHI 367.0 285 105 227 2.57 2.83  133
Harry Krause                      7 1909  20 PHA 213.0 151  33 139 1.39 1.91  174
George McQuillan                  7 1908  23 PHI 359.2 263  61 114 1.53 2.31  157
Irv Young                         7 1905  27 BSN 378.0 337 122 156 2.90 2.53  106
Harvey Haddix (RoY-2nd)           6 1953  27 STL 253.0 220  86 163 3.06 3.40  139
Gene Bearden (RoY-2nd)            6 1948  27 CLE 229.2 187  62  80 2.43 3.89  168
Fred Glade                        6 1904  28 SLB 289.0 248  73 156 2.27 2.17  110
Don Newcombe (RoY-1st)            5 1949  23 BRO 244.1 223  86 149 3.17 3.13  130
Dazzy Vance                       5 1922  31 BRO 245.2 259 101 134 3.70 3.64  111
Henry Schmidt                     5 1903  30 BRO 301.0 321 128  96 3.83 3.74   84

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/17/2014.

 Here is the box score from Sept 17th, 1981 – a few notes:

  • This was the last year of the Garvey/Lopes/Russel/Cey infield but on this day Cey and Russel took the day off with Gary Weiss playing SS, and super utility player Derrel Thomas manning 3rd
  • Fernando who also add the Silver Slugger to his trophy mantle that year, got a hit and drove in one of the two runs. Strangely enough it was an infield hit to second and scored the slowest runner in baseball Mike Scoscia who was on 3rd base.
  • This win would put the Dodgers up by two games, but they would lose the next five and end the year four games out. But it did not matter, because they won the first half of the strike shortened season and Reds could only claim to have the best record but no invitation to dance.

 

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