Aug 11, 2009, 10:00 AM EST
As we look forward to Pedro Martinez's first start as a Phillie this Wednesday, we are not without historical precedent for taking a mid-season flyer on a past-his-prime pitching legend while trying to defend a pennant. Fernandomania had long since passed by 1994, as Fernando Valenzuela was having difficulty just staying in the majors, shuttling between teams like the Orioles and Angels and the Mexican League for much of the early 90s. Struggling to patch together a rotation with an injury-plagued staff, the Phils picked up Fernando in June of '94. He only got to make seven starts in the Red and White, but he actually did a pretty decent job for the Fightins, going 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP.
His best start probably came on August 11th, 1994, with the New York Mets in town. Fernando went eight strong, letting up only one run and striking out seven. Unfortunately, Mets starter Jason Jacome proved too much for the Phils to handle, as they were only able to muster one run of offensive support for Fernando. Thus, the game turned into an extra-inning battle of wills, until finally Ricky Jordan drove in Billy Hatcher with a walk-off single in the bottom of the 15th. Reliever Tom Edens was credited with the win, as the Phillies moved to an uninspiring 54-61.
The start was the last that Fernando Valenzuela made for the Phillies, as the '94 MLB strike prematurely ended the season (possibly a good thing, as the Phils were somewhat unlikely to repeat as NL champs, a mere 20 1/2 games out of first after the victory), and he signed with the Padres the next season. Fernando actually had a pretty decent time out in San Diego, going 21-11 with a 4.09 ERA in his first two years there, before getting traded to the Cardinals in 1997 and retiring shortly after.
(Fun fact: Fernando was the last ex-Cy Young winner to start for the Phils until we picked up one Cliff Lee a few weeks ago).
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