When you trade away a star slugger in the offseason for a pitcher, you don’t want to be entering June with that pitcher languishing with a 1-7 record and 3.74 ERA. That is where the Cardinals found themselves in 1985 with John Tudor. St. Louis acquired the left-handed pitcher for fan favorite George Hendrick, who had been just about the sole source of power on a speedy Redbirds team for much of the ’80s to that point. Unbelievably, Tudor was about to go on a run that would ultimately lead to a season for the ages.
After June 1, John Tudor won 20 games(!) and threw 10 shutouts on his way to a phenomenal 21-8 season with a 1.93 ERA and 0.938 WHIP, which led the majors. The only thing that kept Tudor from winning the Cy Young award even after his disastrous start was a guy named Dwight Gooden, who dominated with a 24-4 record, 1.53 ERA, and 268 strikeouts.
Tudor won his June 3 start and his next seven starts after, including a 2-hit shutout on June 23 against the Cubs and a pair of 3-hit shutouts vs. the Mets and Padres. After a tough-luck 3-0 loss to the Dodgers (who the Cardinals would later beat in the NLCS) on July 20, Tudor went on to win all of his last 11 decisions.
Among that year-ending win streak for Tudor was a fantastic turn on September 11 against Dwight Gooden and the Mets in New York. This marquee matchup saw both aces duel to a scoreless draw through regulation. Jesse Orosco relieved Gooden in the top of the 10th, and promptly gave up a home run to journeyman César Cedeño to lead off the inning. Tudor came back out for the bottom of the 10th, and after giving up a leadoff single to Wally Backman (only the third hit Tudor allowed), Tudor got Keith Hernandez to ground into a double play. Gary Carter walked before Tudor fanned Darryl Strawberry to end the game.
Though the Cardinals would blow a 3-1 lead in the World Series to the Royals, Tudor’s season stands as one of the best turnarounds in MLB history. Tudor would go on to pitch five seasons in St. Louis with World Championship in 1987, and stands as the storied franchise’s career WHIP leader with a 1.08 mark.