When it comes to determining the greatest starting pitcher in a franchise’s history, where do you even start? 

Considering the Toronto Blue Jays have been in existence since 1977, 277 pitchers have taken the mound with 147 of them being starters. 

Everyone has their opinions as to who was better; who had the most wins, who started the most games, who contributed the most to the franchise’s success. 

In this instance instead of throwing out names like Roy Halladay, Dave Stieb, Roger Clemens and Pat Hentgen, one would have to set qualifying criteria like the number of games started i.e. at least 60-plus games.  For the sake of argument that number can be broken down even further to the top 10 leaders in victories. 

Of course when it comes to determining the best ever, the same names surface each and every conversation: Dave Stieb, Roy Halladay, Jim Clancy, Jimmy Key, Pat Hentgen, David Wells, and Juan Guzman.

Clancy, Hentgen, Wells and Guzman were good in their own right, but in the upper echelon of Jays greats?  I don’t think so.  Their Toronto career ERAs ranged from 4.06 to 4.28; highly uncharacteristic to being named best of all time. 

Clemens on the other hand had a superb stint while in Toronto, culminating in two Cy Young awards and 41 wins in 67 starts.  Perhaps the two best seasons ever—I’ll give him that—but only two seasons.

That leaves Stieb, Halladay and Key to battle it out for Canadian supremacy. 

Jimmy Key ranks fourth in victories with 116 leaving him trailing Doc by 32, but Key never received the spotlight he should’ve in my eyes.  Rarely breaking 90, Key was a magician at hitting his spots and a model of consistency for the Jays through their peak years in the late ’80s and early ’90s. 

What can you say about Mr. Halladay, this beast of a pitcher?  If Doc didn’t struggle through those early years, he could quite possibly hold the team lead in victories.  With that being said, Halladay was the go-to guy in Toronto between 2002 and 2009.  Six All-Star appearances and a Cy Young in 2003 have solidified this gunslinger’s spot in history.  The scary thing?  He may be even better now.  Unbelievable considering what fans have witnessed in Toronto. 

Stieb will always be remembered for the guy who battled every single time he took the mound.  Every appearance was filled with glaring stares to teammates who committed an error.  Strikeouts were most certainly graced by the presence of one of the nastiest sliders that danced through the zone at nearly unhittable angles.  Combining that with five one-hitters (three lost on the last out), one no-hitter, the most wins in club history (175) and a tie for second with a 3.42 ERA leaves him as the most prolific pitcher Toronto has ever had. 

When considering all the attributes that go into putting something like this together, you cannot base your arguments strictly on face value.  You undoubtedly need to dig deeper and break things down to support your claim. 

In the end, Dave Stieb will go down as the greatest Jay to toe the rubber.  I tip my cap to the man who made watching those games on CTV something I will never forget. 

Follow this link to view several interesting numbers, some that will make you think twice. Click here to view.

Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective

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