Blue Jays: Combining generations for an all-time pitching staff

TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 14: Former player Roy Halladay
TORONTO, CANADA - AUGUST 14: Former player Roy Halladay /
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Blue Jays
TORONTO, ON – CIRCA 1989: Dave Stieb #37 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during an Major League Baseball game circa 1989 at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, Ontario. Stieb played for the Blue Jays from 1979-92 and in 1998. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Rounding Out The Rotation

3- Dave Stieb
1984 Stats: 16-8, 2.83 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 198 K, 267 IP, 7.9 bWAR

After what I consider to be the undisputed top two in Halladay and Clemens, things get a little more open for debate. That said, there’s no way you can have an all-time Blue Jays rotation without Dave Stieb.

The slider artist enjoyed a fine career with the Blue Jays, and likely didn’t get the credit he deserved for his work at the time. Although he was a 7x All-Star, he never finished higher than 4th in Cy Young award voting, and with the benefit of the advanced data we have today, that could have been different.

Either way, Stieb’s 56.8 bWAR over parts of 15 seasons definitely makes the list, and you can take your pick of several fine seasons in a Blue Jays uniform.

4- Pat Hentgen
1996 Stats: 20-10, 3.22 ERA, 1.250 WHIP, 160 K, 264 IP, 8.6 bWAR

The Blue Jays have had three Cy Young Award winners in franchise history, and I figured that meant that Hentgen should join Halladay and Clemens on this list as well.

At his best Hentgen was an outstanding starting pitcher, earning 8.6 bWAR during his Cy Young campaign in 1996. He had several other productive seasons in Toronto throughout his career, but that was certainly his peak. He was also a different pitcher than a typical Cy Young winner of that era, more frequently pitching to contact. You can’t argue with the results.

5- Jimmy Key
1987 Stats: 17-8, 2.76 ERA, 1.057 WHIP, 161 K, 262 IP, 7.4 bWAR

I considered plenty of options for the fifth and final spot in the rotation including Juan Guzman, David Wells, and even Jim Clancy, but I ultimately had to go with Jimmy Key.

There were a lot of similarities to Hentgen for Key, in that he had a long and successful career as a Blue Jay, plenty of productive seasons, and a very good peak year. In 1987, Key arguably should have won the Cy Young award when he led the AL in ERA and WHIP, but he fell just shy of Roger Clemens, who was outstanding with the Red Sox that year, and a worthy winner. Still, Key doesn’t get the credit he deserves for what he did in Toronto, and in my mind he’s the guy to round out the rotation.