Top 5 starting pitchers in Blue Jays franchise history by WAR

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3. Jimmy Key (29.7 WAR)

There is a reason Jimmy Key was known as ‘the key to victory’ during his career with the Blue Jays.

Selected in the third round of the 1982 draft out of Clemson, Key broke onto the scene in 1985, putting up the third best ERA in the AL (3.00) as a 24-year-old, and leading the Jays to their first ever postseason appearance.

This was the start of a brilliant eight-year run for Key in which he averaged more than 200 innings per year and pitched to a 3.38 ERA as the Jays won four division titles. The run included Key’s best year in 1987 for the 96-win Jays – arguably the best season a Jays starter has ever had – when he led the league in both ERA (2.76) and WHIP (1.06) while throwing 261 innings, finishing second in the Cy Young race behind the phenom that was the young Roger Clemens.

When the Jays finally broke through and won the World Series in 1992, it was Key who picked up both the third and the fourth wins of the series – first, with 7.2 innings of one-run ball in a 2-1 Game 4 win, and then, as a reliever in the 10th and 11th innings of Game 6.

The key to victory, indeed. Heck, Key even picked up the win in the only All-Star Game ever played in Toronto in 1991.

Through it all, Key got it done as one of the most stereotypically crafty lefties the game has ever seen, a soft-tosser who bamboozled hitters with his mind more so than his arm. Perhaps this should be no surprise, given that his father was an engineer and his mother worked for NASA.

The end result is that Jimmy Key stands as the greatest lefty in Blue Jays franchise history, and, according to WAR, the third best pitcher the team has ever had.