The pride of Tamaulipas, Ismael Valdez was a dodger from 1994-2000. He was nicknamed “The Rocket” in Mexico, and we got the best of his MLB years in LA.
His Dodger Story
The Los Angeles Dodgers signed Ismael Valdez when he was 17 years old, on June 14, 1991. He was 20 years old when he made his debut June 15, 1994. He pitched 28 innings in 94, and struck out 28 with a 1.094 WHIP. The Dodgers definitely saw some potential in these numbers, and in ’95 he pitched 197 innings, went 13-11, (if you still actually think win/loss is relevant) with a 1.108 WHIP, and a 3.05 ERA. He was also 3rd in the NL with 6 complete games. In the 1995 postseason the young man started 1 game, and pitched 7 innings with 0 ER, (2 runs allowed) and 6 strikeouts. For a 21 year old, this is impressive. Solid numbers in his first year of full-time innings, for sure.
In 1996 he went 15-7 with a 3.32 ERA. He posted a WHIP of 1.213, and this time he logged 225 innings. He once again got to start a game, with 3 ER in 6.1 innings. Trusting a young pitcher like this for postseason work is pretty great. The Dodgers definitely had high hopes for young Ismael.
Over the next few years his numbers slightly declined, and his run support sharply declined. He had pretty decent stuff but didn’t put up outstanding numbers. In 185 games for LA from 94-00, Ismael had a 61-57 record and 3.48 ERA with 784 strikeouts.
To Chicago Back To LA
So Ismael had an interesting offseason and 2000 season. On December 12, 1999 the Dodgers traded him to the Chicago Cubs (with Eric Young) for Terry Adams and 2 minor leaguers. He had 12 starts for the Cubbies, went 2-4 with a 5.37 ERA. That same June, the Cubs traded him back to the Dodgers. That’s right, he spent an entire 6 months outside of a Dodger uniform. After going 0-3 in 8 starts (with an ugly 6.08 ERA) for the rest of his season, the Dodgers did not re-sign him in free agency. He signed with the Angels.
Even as recent as the 90’s, there’s not a lot of video readily available of Ismael. I did find a nice clip with Dodger legend Vin Scully narrating. Ismael had a pretty wicked curveball and his fastball featured some nice late movement.
Post Dodgers Career
Ismael pitched in the majors until 2005 for Anaheim, Texas, Seattle, San Diego, and Florida. His best years were with the Dodgers, and he never quite had the same stuff. Dodger fans certainly appreciate the contributions he gave to LA, and I will fondly remember watching him pitch with my Dad.
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