Blue Jays all-time best bullpen based on WAR

Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays
Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays / Tom Szczerbowski/GettyImages
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Duane Ward, 14.9 fWAR

Duane Ward was a first-round, ninth-overall draft pick by the Atlanta Braves in 1982. The Blue Jays acquired him in trade for Doyle Alexander in 1986, a move that would solidify the back end of the Toronto bullpen through the most important years in franchise history.

With only two Toronto relievers above a 14 fWAR, Ward is in elite company with his 14.9fWAR. He holds the team record for relief innings pitched (648 1/3) and strikeouts (670), while he's second in appearances (450).

Ward came into his own in 1988 with a 9-3 record, 15 saves and led the relief corps with 91 strikeouts. The dominant righty led the Toronto bullpen in strikeouts in every season from 1988 to 1993 and helped the team reach the postseason in 1989, 1992 and 1993.

In 1991, Ward led the majors in appearances and picked up 23 saves while pitching to a 2.77 ERA in 81 games. He was so good that season that he earned Cy Young votes.

Then he got even better as the team built up to their two World Series runs.

His 1.95 ERA in 1992 was the best by a Jays reliever and 14th in the majors. He got 12 saves but was primarily the set-up man in one of the most feared 1-2 punches at the backend of a bullpen as there was in the big leagues. In the World Series that year, he held the Braves scoreless through 3 1/3 innings, only giving up one hit and striking out six.

But the best was yet to come.

In 1993, Ward took over the full-time closing duties and nailed down an AL-best 45 saves in 70 games. With 97 strikeouts and a 2.13 ERA, the Blue Jays closer earned his one and only All-Star invitation, finished fifth in Cy Young voting and received MVP votes.

To top off his incredible season, Ward went out and dominated through the World Series run with 15 strikeouts through 9 1/3 innings, picking up four saves and holding the Phillies at bay to earn the series-clinching win after Joe Carter's walk-off heroics.

While the debate about whether "clutch" is a real thing in sports, there's no denying that Ward showed up when it mattered most and saved his best postseason pitching for his eight World Series appearances. Between 1992 and 1993, he had a 1.13 ERA, three wins, two saves and 13 strikeouts in eight innings.

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