May 17, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Casey Janssen (44) during the game against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington. The Blue Jays defeated the Texas Rangers 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
The dust has hardly settled on Casey Janssen’s Blue Jays career. He was a polarizing figure in his last year in Toronto but posterity should soon recall his tenure as a very successful one overall. It may be difficult for some to accept, perhaps due to the fog of recency and a lack of context, but Janssen is one of the greatest Blue Jays relievers ever.
Janssen was a homegrown talent being drafted by the Blue Jays in 2004 in the 4th round. He broke into the big leagues as a starter in 2006 and, all things considered, did ok. However the next year, the Jays tried him out in the bullpen where he excelled. He posted a 2.35 ERA, 3.85 FIP in 72.2 innings. He missed 2008 due to injury. He came back as a starter in 2009 but that didn’t end well. In 2010, he reverted to being a full time reliever and never started again. 2010 and 2011 saw Janssen excel in the set up role. In 2012 Janssen became the closer out of necessity as Francisco Cordero was… quite terrible actually. Janssen ran with the opportunity and was the Jays’ closer the subsequent two years as well. He was voted the top Jays pitcher for 2012. He made good on 89% of his save opportunities during the three years he was the closer.
He left Toronto as a free agent for Washington with some friction. Janssen had been frustrated by the team’s unwillingness to add pieces to take them to next level—which was understandable. Janssen’s departure left a gaping hole at the back end of the Jays’ bullpen which has yet to be filled.
Janssen had a distinctive style on the mound. He rocked back and forth and breathed extremely heavily before each pitch—as if each was the most important he’d ever throw. In spite of this intense routine, he inspired confidence. He was an atypical closer relying on pinpoint control and a range of pitches.
He had a 2.92 ERA, 3.37 FIP in 367 games as a Blue Jays reliever. He had a 7.55 K/9, 2.23 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9 with a 1.27 gmLi.
Janssen is 7th in WAR, 4th in Saves, 8th in IP, 1st in BB/9, 5th in ERA, 7th in FIP, 4th in SD/MD (shutdown to meltdown ratio), 4th in SV%
Janssen is only one on this list who is currently playing.