Is this Blue Jays pitching staff the best in franchise history?

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Are you sitting down? You might want to be for this one.

The Toronto Blue Jays pitching staff currently has the lowest ERA in all of Major League Baseball – better than the Mariners and their endless flamethrowers, better than the Rays with their dark magic, better even than the unstoppable Braves.

In fact, they have been so good, the question is now unavoidable – is this the best pitching staff in Blue Jays franchise history?

Look closer.

Jays starters currently sit second in the league in ERA (3.76), despite last year’s Cy Young finalist Alek Manoah putting up a 5.87 ERA over 87.1 innings before being sent to the minors. Take Manoah out of the equation and look only at the five starters who make up the Jays’ rotation today – Gausman, Berrios, Bassitt, Kikuchi, Ryu – and the number drops to 3.53, which would be first in the league by a wide margin.

Meanwhile, the Jays bullpen sits fourth in the league in reliever ERA (3.59), and has surely gotten stronger with the recent additions of Jordan Hicks and Chad Green, meaning they are probably better at this moment than their overall ranking reflects.

In other words, the Blue Jays might have the best starting rotation and the best bullpen in baseball right now.

So, does this make the 2023 edition the best pitching staff the Jays have ever had?

The bar for Blue Jays pitching

Despite having five Cy Young awards in their trophy case, the Toronto Blue Jays are not exactly a franchise known for its pitching.

In 45 years of existence prior to 2023, the Jays finished in the bottom ten of the league in ERA 24 times, and in the top ten only ten times. That is to say, in 45 seasons, their pitching has been somewhere between mediocre and poor over three-quarters of the time.

More than that, when the Jays have enjoyed team success, they’ve rarely gotten there thanks to their pitching. Consider, when they won the World Series in 1992, the Jays were 20th in ERA, and when they repeated in ’93, they were 15th. The next time they made the playoffs, in 2015, they were 12th. In fact, of the nine times the Jays have made the playoffs, only three times have they done so riding a top ten staff ERA. Conversely, each time the Jays have made the playoffs, save for the shortened 2020 COVID season, their hitters have finished in the top ten in OPS.

Frankly, to be among the best pitching staffs in Blue Jays franchise history is not totally a high bar to clear. The question is though, is the 2023 staff the best?

Sifting back through 45 years of history, there are four clear contenders prior to 2023.