We make the call to the bullpen in this one, taking a look at a bunch of relievers that maybe occasionally stepped into even bigger roles, but were also counted on in the middle innings as well.
Jim Acker (1983-1986, 1989-1991)
Acker joined the Blue Jays as a Rule 5 draft pick from the Braves, and he became one of the Jays’ more successful picks in that draft. Acker’s two stints with Toronto involved being traded back to the Braves for Joe Johnson, and then being re-acquired from the Braves for Tony Castillo and Francisco Cabrera.
Acker pitched 524.1 innings for the Blue Jays, spread across 264 relief appearances and 17 starts. He had a 26-22 overall, collecting 14 saves and compiling a 4.07 ERA. He pitched in the ALCS in 1985, 1989 and 1991, throwing a total of 13 innings. In those 13 innings, he held opponents to just 1 earned run on 7 hits, walking just 1 while striking out 10.
Mark Eichhorn (1982-1988, 1992-1993)
Eichhorn joined the Jays in the rare and now extinct January draft of 1979. He made his debut in 1982, but after just 7 starts in the Majors, suffered a significant shoulder injury. That shoulder injury caused him to miss time, spend much of the next 3 seasons rehabbing and playing in the Minors, but also to lose a lot of velocity and force him to throw sidearm with a funky delivery. And that made him probably more memorable than being a starter would have.
Eichhorn had one of the best relief seasons ever in his rookie season of 1986. Pitching in 69 games, he threw an incredible 157 innings, falling just 5 innings short of qualifying for the ERA title, which he would have won with his 1.72 mark. He had a 14-6 record out of the bullpen, while also putting up a 0.955 WHIP. He finished the season with a 6th place finish in Cy Young voting, and 3rd place in Rookie of the Year.
After Eichhorn left the Jays in 1988, they brought him back as a trade deadline acquisition in 1992, sending Greg Myers and Rob Ducey the other way. He would throw just 4.1 total innings in the playoffs for the Blue Jays, despite being on the team in 1987, 1992 and 1993. Those 4.1 innings were great though, as he allowed just a pair of hits and a pair of walks while also striking out two.
Overall, his numbers as a Blue Jay over 493 innings came to a 29-19 record with a 3.03 ERA while also picking 15 saves along the way. And just check out this delivery.
Tony Castillo (1988-1989, 1993-1996)
Another two stint reliever, Castillo originally came to the Jays as an amateur Free Agent out of Venezuela. After being traded away in the aforementioned trade that sent Acker to the Braves, Castillo made his way back to Toronto as a Free Agent signing prior to the 1993 season.
Castillo threw 296.1 innings as a Blue Jay, pitching to a 13-13 record with a 3.49 ERA and collected 16 saves, 13 of which came in his final full season with the Jays. In the 1993 playoffs, Castillo had an excellent ALCS, facing the minimum over his 2 innings. But he wasn’t quite as clean in the World Series, as he allowed 3 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks over 3.1 innings. Most of the damage came in the infamous Game 4, where the Blue Jays outslugged the Phillies 15-14. Castillo pitched 2.1 innings that game, and also managed to pick up the win.
Here he is in a late season start in 1995 against the Yankees.
Brian Tallet (2006-2011)
The Blue Jays traded one of the best names they ever had for Tallet prior to the 2006 season, sending Bubbie Buzachero to Cleveland (although he did make it back to the Jays’ system for the 2009 and 2010 seasons). The left handed Tallet spent the first few years in the bullpen for the Jays, before they decided they needed to see him as a starter in 2009. That didn’t stick though, as he was back in the bullpen for 2010.
Overall, across 411.1 innings for the Jays, Tallet went 15-22 with a 4.75 ERA, although he had a 4.31 ERA as a reliever. He never picked up a single save, but he did have 11 holds. He was traded away as part of the large trade that brought Colby Rasmus to the Jays.
Shawn Camp (2008-2011)
The Blue Jays signed Camp as a Minor League Free Agent prior to the 2008 season. He lasted just 10 innings in the Minors in 2008, as his services were quickly needed in the Majors, and his ability to get righties out was pretty great, especially in a division with some of the best right handed batters in baseball. Over his 4 seasons in Toronto, he held righties to the following OPS - .514, .650, .661 and .738.
As a Blue Jay, he went 15-13 with a 3.63 ERA, easily the best numbers he put up for any team in his 10 year career. He picked up 4 saves, and also contributed 31 holds.
Aaron Loup (2012-2018)
The Jays drafted Loup in the 9th round of the 2009 draft, and he made his way to the Majors for a July relief appearance as a 24 year old in 2012. He was very solid for his first 3 years, against both right handers and left handers. From 2012-2014 over 168.2 innings, Loup was 8-12 with a 2.77 ERA, picking up 6 saves and 27 holds.
Things started to go poorly for him from there, as he became a lot more hittable by righties, prone to giving up long balls and also beaning batters. He beaned a batter once every 10.1 innings throughout his career, and gave up a home run even more frequently than that after 2014.
Who was your favourite middle reliever?
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