We have a few former Blue Jays with birthdays today.
Marcus Stroman turns 30 today.
Marcus first came up to the Jays on May 3, 2014. Brandon Morrow went on the DL with a torn tendon sheath in a finger on his right hand, and Marcus got his roster spot. For most of that, May Marcus pitched out of the bullpen. He made his first MLB start May 31, getting the win, pitching 6 innings of 1 run ball. He threw a shutout on September 8 against the Cubs, allowing 3 hits, no walks with 8 strikeouts.
He’d finish the season 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA.
2015 would be a lost season. Stroman tore his anterior cruciate ligament during spring training and wouldn’t pitch until September. He did have a great September, going 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA. And he made three playoff starts.
In 2016 Marcus reached 200 innings for the first time. He went 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA in 32 starts. He made three starts in the playoffs and got one of our two wins against the Royals in the ALCS.
Stroman had his best season in 2017, going 13-9 with a 3.09 ERA in 33 starts, throwing 201 innings. And, he hit a home run, becoming just the second Blue Jays pitcher to hit one (Mark Hendrickson hit the other in 2003). Marcus finished 8th in Cy Young voting and won the Gold Glove. He was the starting pitcher in our Wild Card game win over the Orioles and made a start in our ALCS loss to Cleveland.
2018 didn’t go well; he missed time with shoulder soreness and blister issues.
2019 he was pitching great. He was 6-11 with a 2.96 ERA in 21 starts, easily the best starter we had. And then, on July 28, he was traded to the Mets for Simeon Woods Richardson and Anthony Kay. He made 11 starts for the Mets with a 4-2 record and a 3.77 ERA.
He didn’t pitch in 2020. This season started well, 1.86 ERA in 5 games, but he came out of his last start with a tight hamstring.
As a Blue Jay, Marcus had a 47-45 (15th on our all-time list in wins) record and a 3.76 ERA in 146 games, 140 starts (with one career home run and one career double).
Happy Birthday, Marcus.
Roy Lee Jackson turns 67 today.
Jackson came over to the Jays from the Mets in trade for Bob Bailor back in December of 1980.
He was a right-handed pitcher who went into our bullpen and became, kind of nominally, closer. He had a 2.61 ERA with 7 saves in the strike-shortened 1981 season, his best of 4 seasons with the Jays.
In four seasons, he had a 3.50 ERA in 190 games, with 30 saves. He sits 15th on our all-time saves list. Roy Lee wasn’t your typical closer, not a flame thrower. He wasn’t a strikeout pitcher, averaging 5.4 strikeouts per 9 innings.
The Jays released him at the start of the 1985 season. He signed with the Padres and played a season with them and then a season with the Twins.
Happy Birthday, Roy Lee.
Charlie O’Brien turns 61 today.
Charlie had a 15-year career as a good glove/poor bat catcher. Two of those seasons were with the Blue Jays.
Before the 1996 season, Charlie signed as a free agent with the Jays. In his two seasons with the Jays, Charlie hit .230/.322/.384 with 17 home runs in 178 games. Not all that bad with the bat. But his glove was what kept him in the majors. He had a great arm. In 1996 he threw out 38% of base stealers, and in 1997 he threw out 55%.
And pitchers loved him. Here is a bit of an interview I did with Pat Hentgen when I asked about the relationship between a pitcher and his catcher:
It is very important, my best year was with (Charlie) O’Brien, who I felt was the best at knowing who to light a fire under and knowing who to pat on the back. I feel like that is a big part of it, there is no question, knowing a catcher and having the catcher know you and know what fingers to put down, is a great feeling for a pitcher. There is nothing worse than being out on the mound and the rhythm is off. He’s not calling the pitch you are thinking of and he keeps going to your third pitch, and you got to shake twice to get to it. That stuff becomes frustrating when you are pitching. Especially if you are pitching 6, 7 innings every fifth day. If you are logging 200 innings, it is a lot smoother if you have a catcher that is on the same page as you. I think that is why Doc is complimenting this guy because a) he has been in the AL all his career and doesn’t know the hitters that well and b) he apparently he likes to throw to this guy. Remember, he is the type of guy that’s going to give the limelight to other people. Doc’s not a guy that likes to do press conferences, not a guy that likes all that attention. He likely to go under the radar as you well know.
But I’m not saying anything against Ruiz. Obviously, Doc likes throwing to him, he has thrown 2 no-hitters, and he’ll win another Cy Young. But I think I could go catch Doc and he’d win a Cy Young (laughs).
In O’Brien’s 15 year career, he played for 8 MLB teams. He hit .221/.303/.353 with 56 home runs in 800 games.
He’s one of those guys who wasn’t a Jay for a long time, but I really liked him and look back on his time with us fondly.
Happy Birthday, Charlie.
It is also Rich Butler’s 47th birthday today.
Rich was an outfield prospect for the Blue Jays in the 1990s. Well, the prospect might be overstating things. Rich was signed as a non-drafted free agent but was born in Toronto, so we had a little extra hope for him.
Rich was a September callup in 1997. He played in 7 games, hit .286/.375/.357 in 16 PA.
We lost Rich to the Devil Rays in the expansion draft after the season. He played 72 games for the Rays in their first season, hitting .226/.278/.364 with 7 homers. In 1999 he played 7 games. After the season, he signed with the Mariners as a free agent, but he didn’t make it back to the majors.
In all, he had 86 MLB games, which isn’t bad for a player who went undrafted.
Happy Birthday, Rich.