Top 10 Blue Jays Relievers of All Time

11 of 11

1. Tom Henke

Tom Henke, the Terminator, closed out the Jays’ big extra-inning win over the Orioles on Sept. 29, 1989, punching their ticket to the post-season.



Was there any doubt when you started reading this? About #1 or #2? Hopefully #4 through #10 were intriguing and worthy of debate. To no one’s surprise, Tom Henke is the greatest Blue Jays’ reliever of all time.

Henke was drafted three times but eventually signed with the Rangers in 1980. From his earliest days in the minors, it was pretty clear that Henke was destined for the bullpen. Henke never started a game in the majors. He played his first games in 1982 and showed promise in 15.2 innings. He bounced back and forth between the majors and minors for the 1983 and 1984 seasons. He couldn’t seem to secure a permanent spot. By Henke’s own admission later, in those days he was a thrower and not a pitcher.

1985, Pat Gillick made one of his master strokes. The Rangers had signed Cliff Johnson and the Jays were owed a compensatory pick. The Jays selection was Tom Henke. The Jays even got Cliff Johnson back for PTBNLs later that year. Henke mowed down his Syracuse opponents, was called up to the Jays and never looked back. Overnight it seemed, Henke became a “pitcher” and began earning the nickname “Terminator.” Henke had a 2.03 ERA/ 2.48 FIP that year and received MVP and rookie of the year votes. Henke became the closer in 1986 and held that role until the World Series win in 1992.

Henke left as a free agent in 1993 to Rangers (who must have been kicking themselves for letting him go all those years) and retired after the 1995 season. Just like Ward, Henke’s career ended after a great season but for Henke the decision was voluntary and he was 37 at the time.

Henke’s best season was probably 1989. His ERA was 1.92, 1.80 FIP with an 11.7 K/9. Henke had 5 saves in the 1992 World Series run and had a career playoff ERA of 1.83 in 19.2 innings.

Henke had a 2.48 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 10.29 K/9, 2.65 BB/9, 0.77 HR/9 and a 1.76 gmLI in 446 games with the Jays

Henke is 1st in WARIP, 1st in WAR, 3nd in Games, 3rd in Innings, 4th in K/9, 6th in BB/9, 1st in ERA, 1st in FIP, 1st in Saves, 2nd in SV%, 2nd in Strikeouts, 2nd in SD/MD, 1st in SDs, 1st in WPA, 2nd highest gmLI

Honourable Mentions:

Victor Cruz would have made the top 10 had he not missed the innings cutoff. Other inning cutoff notables include: Scott Eyre, Marc Rzepczynski, Todd Stottlemyre, Pete Vuckovich, Kevin Gregg

Mike Timlin was ranked 11th

Brett Cecil, Jason Frasor, Tony Castillo, Aaron Loup, David Wells, Darren Oliver, Dennis Lamp, Danny Cox and Justin Speier rounded out the top 20

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