Blue Jays best pitching repertoire: Building the ultimate pitcher
I tried my best to avoid recency bias when making this selection. I read as much as I could about the change-ups from other Blue Jays’ pitchers of the past, and tried to find an argument wherever I could. I even really wanted to give this pitch to Jimmy Key, who is about as underrated as they come in Blue Jays’ lore.
But I don’t think we’ve ever seen a better change-up in Toronto than the one that Marco Estrada was throwing just a few years ago.
It was the type of offering that made his fairly mediocre fastball turn into a quality pitch. Since opposing batters had to account for that change-up, and had a tough time hitting it even when they were sitting on it, suddenly his 89-91 mile per hour fastball looked a lot more intimidating, especially when he threw it up in the zone.
Back in 2015, hitters posted a batting average of just .185, and then Estrada followed it up by holding them to just .159 against his change-piece in 2016, according to Baseball Savant. And again, because hitters had to account for the devastating pitch, his fastball was very effective as well, holding them to just a .194 average against his four-seamer in 2015 for example.
The veteran has dealt with a variety of back issues in recent years, and unfortunately it pushed him into retirement ahead of the 2020 campaign. Thankfully the Blue Jays got the best of him while he was healthy though, and we’ll always remember that nasty change-up.