Fernando Valenzuela won NL Pitcher of the Month three times, including in his first month as a starter. (Getty Images)
The National League began handing out pitcher of the month awards in 1975. Prior to that, from 1958 to 1974, both position players and pitchers were eligible for the player of the month award. During those first 17 seasons, a Dodgers pitcher won the award seven times: Don Drysdale captured three awards, while Sandy Koufax, Bill Singer, Don Sutton, and Tommy John picked up one each. Since the pitchers got their own awards beginning in 1975, the Dodgers have won 25 times including Clayton Kershaw, who yesterday won the award for July 2011.
Considering that there have been 160 baseball months since the beginning of 1975, the Dodgers winning 25 is pretty impressive, and constitutes 15.6% of the total awards. The Braves are second, with 24 monthly honors.
In the first year the pitchers got their own monthly award, the Dodgers started collecting trophies as a hobby. Sutton took home the very first NL Pitcher of the Month award in April 1975 by going 4-1 with a 1.97 ERA. Sutton followed that with a 5-2, 1.35 May and picked up the award for that month, too. Later in the year, new Dodger Burt Hooton (acquired fromt he Cubs in May) went 6-0 with a 1.07 ERA in August, then 5-0 with a 2.41 ERA in September to take home the final two awards of the year.
Aside from 1975, no Dodger pitcher has won back-to-back Pitcher of the Month awards, though a two others have won twice in one season. Fernando Valenzuela won twice in 1985, in April (his ERA after the first month: 0.21) and July. Three years later, Orel Hershiser won in April and September (55 innings, no runs in that final month).
Hershiser and Sutton each have the most pitcher of the month awards with four, which counts Sutton's Player of the Month honors in April 1972. Valenzuela joins Hooton and Drysdale with three awards each, while Hideo Nomo won twice.
Aside from Kershaw, the other Dodgers to win pitcher of the month in July are Drysdale (1959, 1960), Singer (1970), Hershiser (1984), Valenzuela (1985), and Chan Ho Park (1998).
Here is the full list of Dodgers to win pitcher of the month:
|Dodgers Pitcher Of The Month Winners|
|Don Sutton||Apr 1975||4-1, 1.97 ERA|
|Don Sutton||May 1975||5-2, 1.35 ERA|
|Burt Hooton||Aug 1975||6-0, 1.07 ERA|
|Burt Hooton||Sep 1975||9.33 IP/start in 6 starts; 5-0, 2.41 ERA|
|Don Sutton||Sep 1976||9.24 IP/start in 7 starts, 0.97 ERA|
|Jerry Reuss||Jun 1980||0.82 ERA, no-hitter at Candlestick|
|Fernando Valenzuela||Apr 1981||Five starts, five CG, one run. Mania.|
|Steve Howe||Jun 1982||25.1 IP in relief, 0.36 ERA, 2-0, six saves|
|Burt Hooton||Jun 1983||4-0, 1.77 ERA|
|Rick Honeycutt||Apr 1984||4-0, 1.38 ERA, two shutouts|
|Orel Hershiser||Jul 1984||Four shutouts in first eight MLB starts|
|Fernando Valenzuela||Apr 1985||42 IP, 1 ER, 2-3 record|
|Fernando Valenzuela||Jul 1985||5-0, 1.24 ERA|
|Orel Hershiser||Jun 1987||5-1, 0.90 ERA|
|Orel Hershiser||Apr 1988||Five starts, five wins, 1.56 ERA|
|Orel Hershiser||Sep 1988||55 IP, 0 runs. Championship|
|Tim Belcher||Sep 1989||5-0, 1.51 ERA, three shutouts|
|Jun 1990||4-0, 1.76 ERA, 18 K vs. Atlanta|
|Hideo Nomo||Jun 1995||6-0, 0.89 ERA, second month in MLB|
|Hideo Nomo||Sep 1996||3-1, 2.03 ERA, no-hitter at Coors Field|
|Chan Ho Park||Jul 1998||4-0, 1.05 ERA|
|Eric Gagne||Jun 2002||11 saves, 24 K in 48 batters faced|
|Kevin Brown||May 2003||5-0; five games w/one run, one w/zero|
|Derek Lowe||Aug 2006||4-1, 1.69 ERA|
|Clayton Kershaw||Jul 2011||4-1, 2.02 ERA, 45 K in 35 2/3 IP|