Mike Timlin turns 54 today.
Timlin will always have a special place in my heart as he not only got the final out in the Jay’s first World Series, he also made the assist on the final play, fielding Otis Nixon’s bunt single attempt and throwing to Joe Carter at first just in time to get Nixon. And for that, he gets to a place as one of my favorite players.
Mike was drafted in the 5th round of the 1987 amateur draft out of Southwestern University. He was your basic two-pitch reliever throwing a two-seam sinking fastball and a slider or in Bill James words a great slider.
In 1991 Mike appeared in 63 games, starting 3 of them. He finished the season 11-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 3 saves. In 108.1 innings he gave up 94 hits and 50 walks, 6 home runs and struck out 85. His wins, innings pitched and strikeout numbers are career highs. He was tied for the league lead in relief victories and got 2 third-place votes for Rookie of the Year that season to finish 6th in the voting. Just to let you know how long ago that was, Chuck Knoblauch was the Rookie of the Year. The Jays made the playoffs that season and lost out to the Twins in 5 games. Timlin appeared in 4 of the games taking the loss in game 3.
1992 was the season noted above that the Jays won their first World Series. Timlin started the season on the DL after off-season elbow surgery and rehabbed in the minors until June 12 and then was optioned to the minors again July 31st. He didn’t have a great season, only getting into 26 games, finishing 0-2, with a 4.12 ERA. He pitched in 2 games in the ALCS and 2 games in the World Series picking up the save in the 11th inning of the final game of the World Series.
Our second World Series season Timlin was an important part of our pen appearing in 54 games with a 4-2 record, 1 save with a 4.69 ERA. In 55.2 innings he allowed 63 hits, walked 27, and gave up 7 homers, so he wasn’t terribly impressive. He pitched in 1 game in the ALCS against the White Sox and 2 scoreless appearances in the World Series win over the Phillies.
He didn’t have a great season in 1994 making only 34 appearances with a 5.18 ERA and went on the DL on May 27 with a sprained AC joint. After the All-Star break, he had a 2.38 ERA. In 1995 he had more injury troubles. He only gave up one home run all season, a grand slam on June 21, and then went on the DL to have bone chips removed from his elbow the next day. He only allowed 1 earned run after returning from the DL August 18th.
In 1996 he became our closer saving a career-high 31 saves in 38 opportunities. He led the club with 59 appearances and had a 3.65 ERA and a 1-6 record. In 56.2 innings he allowed 47 hits, 18 walks, and 4 homers while striking out 52. But it wasn’t a good season for the team, we finished 74 and 88.
In 1997 Timlin made 38 appearances and was 3-2 with 9 saves and a 2.87 ERA when he was traded to the Seattle Mariners with Paul Spoljaric for Jose Cruz on July 31st. The Mariners were in a pennant race and needed bullpen help and were willing to trade Cruz, their first-round pick in the 1995 amateur draft. It was a great trade for the Jays and you’d imagine it would be when you trade two middle reliever types for a young, power-hitting outfielder. The Mariners did win their division and that season and Timlin did a good job for them for the next season and a half before leaving as a free agent after the 1998 season.
After that Mike played for the Orioles, Cardinals, Phillies and the Red Sox, winning two World Series rings with them. He had 18 years in the majors and he appeared in 1058 games, 8th on the all time list. In 2007 he was awarded the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for something, I’m really not sure what. It says ‘Given to the player who best exemplifies character and integrity both on and off the field’. I suppose it would be a bad thing to note that the bastion of integrity Pete Rose once won the award too.
Happy Birthday Mike. I hope you have a good one.