Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
In 1992 and 1993, the Toronto Blue Jays featured a couple of effective relievers. One of them was just coming into his own, while the other was a work horse who would end his career a short while later.
Toronto Blue Jays
In Round 1, Duane Ward received 93% of the vote. He pitched 7+ years for the Blue Jays and ended up in the closer’s role for the franchise’s second straight World Series title. Ward saved 45 games in ’93 with a 2.13 ERA and an impressive 12.18 K/9. He would also reach a career high 83.9% LOB that year. But, that wasn’t his best year. See, in 1991, he went 7-6 with 23 saves in 81 games. 81! He threw 107 innings that year and put up 4.1 WAR. From the bullpen.
In total, Ward put up a career WAR of 14.7 with 5 straight seasons of 2+ WAR from 1989 through 1993. What is the most impressive aspect of this is the total amount of innings he threw from year to year. He tossed over 100 innings 5 times from ’88 through ’92 with a career high 127.2 innings in 1990. Ward may not have the career resume of some of the elite closers in MLB history, but that workload speaks volumes.
Timlin (who received 61% of the vote in Rd 1) had a front row seat to the greatness as he entered the league in 1991. He would go on to have an 18 year career that saw him reach nearly twice as many innings as Ward. Of course, he lasted over twice as long as a pitcher. Perhaps the highlights of Timlin’s career really serve as book ends.
He started with the Blue Jays in 1991 when he went 11-6 in 108 innings, including 3 starts. It was a great rookie season that saw him put up 1.5 WAR and finish 6th in AL Rookie of the Year voting. The end of his time with the Blue Jays saw him save 31 games in ’96 with a 1.4 WAR. Everything else in between adds up to an average reliever. Or, perhaps we remember Timlin so fondly because he fielded and threw out the bunt attempt that won the Blue Jays franchise its first world championship.
Our next matchup features a battle of two of the most memorable home runs in Blue Jays history.
Next: Matchup 3: Big Home Runs