Top 5 starting pitchers in Blue Jays franchise history by WAR

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1. Dave Stieb (56.9 WAR)

The story of how Dave Stieb made his way to the Blue Jays is one of those classic baseball tales that make the game so great.

In college, Stieb was not a pitcher, but an All-American slugger at Southern Illinois University. One day in 1978, two Jays scouts appeared at a game to get a look at Stieb, but quickly came away unimpressed with his swing. As they were packing up their things and preparing to head to the next town, something unexpected happened. With the starting pitcher on his last legs, Stieb suddenly came jogging in from the outfield to pitch, something he almost never did except in emergency situations. It took only a few pitches for the scouts to realize that his natural stuff was something special, and a few months later, the Jays selected Stieb in the fifth round of the MLB draft and set about convincing him to take up pitching full-time.

The rest, as they say, is history.

After his call-up to the big club in 1979, Stieb would become one of the elite aces in the game, a seven-time All-Star and the Jays franchise leader in just about every pitching category out there, including starts, innings pitched, wins, complete games, shutouts, strikeouts, and starter ERA. And yes, he has still thrown the only no hitter in franchise history, which he famously completed in 1990 after three times prior losing a no-no with two outs in ninth.

Yet, as great as Dave Stieb was, it is likely that he was even greater than we remember him. At least three times he was robbed of the Cy Young, in an era where the winner was often the pitcher with the most wins rather than the best pitcher, turning a man who should probably have multiple pieces of hardware into a guy with none.

Moreover, Stieb was wiped from the Hall of Fame ballot in his first year of eligibility after earning only 1.4% of the vote, despite having a higher career WAR than Hall of Fame pitchers like Jim Kaat, Bob Lemon, Catfish Hunter, and his contemporary, Jack Morris, while putting up a better ERA+ than Don Dysdale, Tom Glavine, and Steve Carlton.

With or without recognition, Dave Stieb was simply one of the most dominant pitchers of the 1980s, and, according to WAR, the best starting pitcher in Blue Jays franchise history.

Is Dave Stieb the best starting pitcher the Blue Jays have ever had, or does someone else top the list? Moreover, do the Jays have any up-and-comers who might one day join the conversation? Let me know in the comments or on the platform formerly known as Twitter – @WriteFieldDeep.