A good, hard slider can be as devastating a pitch as any in baseball, and the Blue Jays have had a lot of good ones over the years. That said, I don’t think anyone has had a better slide-piece than Dave Stieb.
For the younger readers in the crowd, Stieb was generally considered to be the best starting pitcher in Blue Jays history until Halladay came along. There’s also a good argument that he should have had much more serious Hall of Fame consideration when he was eligible, but that’s a topic for another day.
For now we’re talking about his slider, and it was flat-out nasty. Unfortunately we don’t have the same data available from that era that we can look at today, but the eye test will do an awful lot in this case. If you’ve never witnessed it for yourself, check out this nice little compilation from youtube user “halladaycelebrate”.
Stieb spent the bulk of his career in a Blue Jays’ uniform, pitching in Toronto from 1979-1992 before making four starts with the Chicago White Sox in 1993 to wrap things up. However, after not pitching for four seasons, he returned to make 19 appearances with the Blue Jays in 1998 as well.
The 7x All-Star finished his career with a 176-137 record, a 3.44 ERA and a 1.245 WHIP across parts of 16 seasons. I wish I had more data to support choosing his slider, and it wasn’t easy passing on the offerings from guys like Ken Giles, Tom Henke, and even Roberto Osuna, but I’m going with Stieb on this one.