The Toronto Blue Jays just signed Kevin Gausman to a five-year $110 million dollar contract this offseason. He’s expected to be a mainstay at the top of a rotation that has the potential to be among the league’s best, including guys like Jose Berrios, Alek Manoah, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Gausman essentially replaced Robbie Ray who just won the 2020 American League Cy Young Award.
The Jays have had some very solid pitching the last couple of years and they are hoping Gausman or any of their other current starters can make their way on a list like this.
Who are the 10 greatest Blue Jays pitchers in franchise history?
10. David Wells
David Wells had two different stints with the Blue Jays, one from 1987-1992, the other from 1999-2000. The two stints were very different. When first called up, Wells was used exclusively in relief. He was initially used as a long reliever before being utilized in more high leverage spots as he continued to pitch well.
In each of the following three seasons, Wells split time between the rotation and bullpen and performed well. Overall, he had a 3.78 ERA in 237 appearances (69 starts) from 1987-1992. He threw 687.1 innings, which is a ton for a guy who pitched most of the time out of the bullpen. His 108 ERA+ in that span shows that he was a tick above average as a pitcher.
He was a contributor in the postseason as well. He allowed no runs in his one inning pitched in the 1989 ALCS. He allowed two runs in four games (7.2 IP) in the 1991 ALCS. He also allowed no runs in four games (4.1 IP) in the 1992 World Series victory.
When Wells was traded back to the Blue Jays after the 1998 season, he arrived with a lot of pressure. He was coming off of three straight 200+ inning seasons with the Orioles and Yankees and was traded in a package in exchange for Roger Clemens, who had just won two Cy Young Awards with the Jays.
Wells might not have been Roger Clemens, but he was a really solid arm for the Jays in the two seasons he pitched for them. His ERA’s were high, but a big reason for that was due to the very heavy workload. Wells led the American League with 231.2 innings pitched and seven complete games in the 1999 season.
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He followed that up with another 229.2 innings pitched in a league-leading 35 starts and nine complete games in the 2000 season. He was an All-Star, finished third in the Cy Young balloting, and finished 17th in the MVP balloting. He also was the first Jays lefty to win 20 games in a season.
What was so impressive about those two seasons was his ability to limit walks. He walked just 2.4/9 in the 1999 season and 1.2/9 in the 2000 season. He also kept the ball in the ballpark as he allowed 1.2 HR/9 in 1999 and 0.9 HR/9 in 2000. For a pitcher who allowed a lot of hits and didn’t have the best stuff in the world at that time, those two things were crucial to Wells performing like a top-end starter.
Wells wasn’t a flashy pitcher, but he pitched for the Jays for a while and had a lot of success in Toronto. He’s ninth in bWAR among pitchers, sixth in wins, seventh in innings pitched, and seventh in strikeouts.