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On This Date in Sports August 25, 1985: The Good Doctor

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Dwight Gooden becomes of the New York Mets becomes the youngest pitcher at the age of 20 to win 20 games in a season. It is the 14th straight win for Gooden, who had one of the greatest seasons of a pitcher in MLB history in 1985. Dwight Gooden would go on to be the youngest Cy Young winner, posting a record of 24-4, with a 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts.

Dwight Eugene Gooden was born on November 16, 1964, in Tampa. A star at Hillsborough High School, Gooden was selected fifth overall by the New York Mets in the 1982 MLB Draft. Just two years later, Dwight Gooden was pitching in the majors with the Mets, making the team out of spring training. The 19-year-old help revitalize the Mets who had been a downtrodden franchise for seven years. Gooden won Rookie of the Year honors in 1984 and finished second in the Cy Young voting by posting a record of 17-9 with a 2.60 ERA. Gooden also had a rookie record 276 strikeouts, earning the nickname Dr. K.  

Big things were expected for Dwight Gooden and the Mets in 1985. A giant mural was hung near Time’s Square, as the Mets took over New York with ever start by Gooden becoming an event at Shea Stadium. Dwight Gooden defeated each National League team at least once, compiling a record of 24-4 with an ERA of 1.53, the lowest ERA since the mound was lowered in 1969. He also became the first pitcher to top 200 strikeouts in each of his first two seasons, winning the pitcher’s triple crown with 268 Ks.

In his Opening Day start against the St. Louis Cardinals, Dwight Gooden allowed four runs in six innings, as the Mets won on a walk-off home run by Gary Carter. Gooden got a no-decision and had an ERA of 4.50. It was the only time all season that his ERA was over 2.00. Five days later, Dwight Gooden pitched a complete game shutout against the Cincinnati Reds, dropping his ERA to 1.80. Gooden also had a shutout in his second start, to lower his ERA to 1.17. Dwight Gooden posted a record of 4-1 in April, ending the month with an ERA of 1.38.

Dwight Gooden had a slight bump in the road in May, losing back-to-back starts to the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers, as his ERA rose to 1.89. Gooden ended to month on a strong note beating the San Francisco Giants 2-1 at Candlestick Park. Gooden improved to 7-3 with the win and had an ERA of 1.79. The win over the Giants started a 14-game winning streak for Dwight Gooden. Over that time, he had just for no decisions, one of which was caused by a lengthy rain delay. Following a 9-3 win over the San Diego Padres on August 25th, Gooden had a record of 20-3 with an ERA of 1.81.

As the Mets battled the St. Louis Cardinals for first place, Dwight Gooden continued his dominance, winning his final four decisions, as his ERA dropped to 1.53. In his final start, Gooden had a 5-2 complete-game win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium with the Mets needing a sweep to keep their postseason hopes alive. The Mets would win two of three as they posted a record of 98-64 and lost the division race by three games.

The Mets would win the World Series in 1986, but Dwight Gooden never reached the heights of his first two seasons. Soon problems with substance abuse and arm troubles would begin to affect Dwight Gooden as his career, which once seemed destined for historical greatness, ended with a 194-112 record and a 3.51 ERA.