After looking at the mid-rotation starters up to 2000 the other day, we move on the mid-rotation starters who joined the team for the 2000 season or later. This is a list of guys who had some pretty good seasons for the Blue Jays, and individually could have had seasons that push them into the #2 territory, but overall they just were not quite as good as the guys on that list.
Esteban Loaiza (2000-2002)
The Blue Jays added Loaiza prior to the trade deadline in 2000, in the ill-fated trade that sent Darwin Cubillan and future All Star Michael Young back to Texas. At the time of the trade, the Jays were 1.5 games back of first place, in possession of a very powerful offense (that was the year with 7 different players over 20 home runs), and had a few bright spots on the pitching staff but just needed a bit more. Loaiza came over and had a pretty good finish to his season (3.62 ERA over 92 innings), but that wasn’t enough to propel the Jays to the playoffs.
His next two seasons in Toronto weren’t as good, as he went 20-21 with a 5.33 ERA (116 ERA-), although his FIP suggests he was pitching much better than the results he was getting, putting up a 4.51 mark in 2001 and even better 4.19 in 2002 (98 FIP- total over the 2 seasons).
The season after Loaiza left the Jays, he had easily the best season of his career, when he went 21-9 with a 2.90 ERA, finishing in second place to Roy Halladay. He was the starting pitcher for the AL in the All Star game that year too. But he was never that pitcher with the Jays. After his playing career was over, he has made a name for himself doing some not so great things.
Shaun Marcum (2005-2010)
The Jays drafted Marcum out of college in the third round of the 2003 draft, and he made his way to the Majors fairly quickly. He was in the bullpen as a September callup in 2005, and then spent the next couple years splitting time between the bullpen and rotation, picking up a 15-10 record and a 4.44 ERA.
He had a great season in 2008, making 25 starts and going 9-7 with a 3.39 ERA over 151.1 innings. However, after struggling to stay fully healthy throughout the second half of the season, he ended up blowing out his UCL in a September 16 start, and missed the entirety of the 2009 season as he recovered from Tommy John Surgery.
Fully recovered, Marcum took the ball for the Jays on opening day in 2010, and had another great season. He went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA over 195.1 innings, putting up 4.1 bWAR and a 3.5 fWAR. That December, the Blue Jays shipped him off to Milwaukee, bringing back Brett Lawrie in return.
J.A. Happ (2012-2014, 2016-2018)
The Blue Jays sent several players to Houston prior to the 2012 trade deadline, bringing back their prized haul in Happ. Happ made 50 starts and another 8 relief appearances in his first stint, going 19-20 with a 4.39 ERA. The Jays traded Happ away after the 2014 season, bringing back Michael Saunders from the Mariners.
The Mariners flipped him to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline in 2015, and Happ revamped his game there. His success as a Pirate convinced the Jays to bring him back on a 3 year, $36m deal prior to the 2016 season.
Happ did not disappoint in his first season back, as he went 20-4 with a 3.18 ERA over 195.1 innings. He placed 6th in the Cy Young voting, and had some success in the playoffs that year too. He made just a pair of starts, allowing 3 runs over 10 innings, picking a win over the Rangers but a loss against Cleveland.
He was nearly as good his final year and a half as well, picking up another 20 wins for non-competitive teams, and completing his second stint as a Blue Jay with a 40-21 record and a 3.55 ERA. Overall, his entire Blue Jay career amounts to a 59-41 record with a 3.88 ERA, 11.1 fWAR and 10.6 bWAR.
Mark Buehrle (2013-2015)
The Blue Jays brought Buehrle and a host of other expensive Major Leaguers over from the Marlins in the ill-fated Jeff Mathis trade in November 2012. The future Hall of Famer ended up being the best player that came to Toronto, and the only one still left on the team when they clinched the playoff spot in 2015. Sadly, Buehrle was left off the postseason roster, as his season wound down and he was clearly out of gas.
Buehrle had a pretty strong 3 year run in Toronto. Overall, he went 40-28 with a 3.78 ERA over 604.1 innings. He crossed the 200 inning threshold in the first 2 seasons (and 14 consecutive in his career), but fell 4 outs short of that mark in 2015 as a last ditch effort on 1 day of rest resulted in 8 runs over 0.2 innings in game 162.
He threw 5 complete games and 2 shutouts in his 3 seasons here. In the 4 years since he left, the Jays have 0 shutouts and just 3 complete games - 2 by Marcus Stroman, and 1 by Ryan Feierabend, a 5 inning rain shortened loss that will stump you on a future Sporcle from Minor Leaguer.
Papa Buehrle was a great mentor the younger pitchers, specifically Stroman. He brought a love of the game and a strong work ethic to the clubhouse, and he was a veteran that you could actually see providing the coveted yet unmeasurable Veteran Presence.
R.A. Dickey (2013-2016)
After the Jays pulled off the Mathis trade, the Jays realized that they still had a hole at the top of their rotation, and they traded for the reigning 2012 NL Cy Young winner. This Cy Young winner was a bit different though, as the 38 year old knuckleballer had just started coming into his own, and obviously wasn’t your typical overpowering ace. Nonetheless, Alex Anthopoulos pulled the trigger on the trade to send future ace Noah Syndergaard and top catching prospect Travis d’Arnaud back to the Mets.
The charismatic Dickey had a solid few years in Toronto, overall putting up a 49-52 record with a 4.05 ERA across 130 starts. He was also the 2013 AL Gold Glover winner on the mound, showing that he had some defensive value as well. That amounted to a 7.1 bWAR, but that also doesn’t account for the -2.0 bWAR that his personal catcher, Josh Thole, provided the Jays in that time too.
When the Jays finally made it to the playoffs in 2015, Dickey was right there making the start in game 4 of the ALDS against the Rangers, pitching 4.2 innings while allowing just 1 run. He didn’t fare nearly as well against the Royals in the ALCS however, lasting just 1.2 innings in game 4 while allowing 5 runs to kick off a 14-2 loss. Dickey was around in 2016, but was shut down in September and never made the playoff roster.
Marco Estrada (2015-2018)
The Jays traded fan favourite first baseman/designated hitter Adam Lind to the Brewers prior to the 2015 season to bolster their pitching depth with Marco Estrada. Estrada was meant to go to the bullpen and provide a backup plan if there were holes in the rotation, but mainly be a swingman jumping between the bullpen and rotation as needed. After a month in the bullpen, he made his first start on May 5, and never pitched out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays again.
Estrada and his incredible changeup had some remarkable starts for the Blue Jays, with his best regular season effort coming on June 24 in Tampa Bay. He was perfect through 7 innings, ultimately making it 8.2 innings of 2 hits, no walks or runs, and 10 strikeouts. His ability to limit hits was incredible, and he led the league in hits allowed per 9 innings in both 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately back problems plagued a lot of his time with the Blue Jays, and he was never able to pitch more than 186 innings in any of his 4 seasons.
But he certainly was healthy when it came time for the playoffs. He pitched some of the biggest games for the Jays, including staving off elimination with gems in both game 3 of the 2015 ALDS, and game 5 of the 2015 ALCS. Over 41.2 playoff innings with the Jays, Estrada allowed just 10 earned runs on 29 hits, good enough for a 2.16 ERA. And when he was on, he made batters look absolutely foolish at the plate. (<— you want to click this link)
Who was your favourite post-2000s mid rotation starter?
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