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Top 60 All-Time Jays, Just Missed Outs: Casey Janssen

Baltimore Orioles v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

I’m going to post a few ‘just missed outs’ from the Top 60 list. In part because there wasn’t all that much difference from about number 45 to number 80 or so. In part because I like to remember some of these guys. And it makes for good off-day content. These are in no particular order.

Robert Casey Janssen | RP | 2006 - 2014

Casey Janssen was born September 17, 1981 in Orange, California.

Casey was a 4th round draft pick in the 2003 draft, out of the University of California, back in J.P. Ricciardi’s time. David Purcey was our first-round pick that year. The Jays also picked Zach Jackson, Curtis Thigpen, and Adam Lind were also picked before Casey.

Casey was a favorite of mine and a favorite of the site. Before I got here, we had an interview with him back in 2008.

Janssen first came up to the Jays at the end of April 2006 to join the rotation. A.J. Burnett had to go on to the DL, something about scar tissue from his Tommy John surgery, back in 2003, breaking off in his arm. Casey started pretty well. He had a 3-2 record and a 3.12 ERA in 6 starts for May. Things went downhill from there. He finished at 6-10 with a 5.07 ERA.

In 2007 we had more pitching injuries, and Janssen moved to the bullpen. We used him as a setup man for closer Jeremy Accardo. He had 24 holds, 6 saves, and a 2.35 ERA in 70 games. He didn’t strike out many, just 39 in 72.2 innings, but he kept the ball on the ground and did a good job.

Casey missed all of the 2008 season and the first month of 2009 with a torn labrum. When he was ready to go, the Jays put him in the rotation. It didn’t go well. In 5 starts, he had a 6.23 ERA, and he went back to the bullpen to stay. There was a short time on the DL in between with a knee injury. For the next 5 seasons, he would be an essential member of our bullpen.

From 2010 to 2014, Casey pitched in 279 games, putting up a 2.99 and 83 saves (with just blown saves). From 2012 to 2014, he was our closer.

He had a career-high 34 saves in 2013 (8th in team history). pitching 56 games, he had a 2.56 ERA, with 13 walks and 50 strikeouts in 52.2 innings.

You might remember that, in 2014, he had a bout of food poisoning over the All-Star break, and he had a rough second half. After having a decent first half of the season, he put up a 5.70 ERA second half and would tie a career-high with 5 blown saves.

After the season, he signed a contract with the Nationals. He wasn’t great in 2015, and the Nationals declined the option for the 2016 season. After that, he was signed and released by the Padres and Red Sox without pitching again in the majors. He pitched in the Mexican League in 2017.

I’m not sure exactly why he was such a favorite around here, well, other than he was so good. I liked his follow-through, with the lead leg bend, so he was so low to the ground. They used to call that drop and drag pitching. He threw a low 90s four-seam fastball, a cutter, and, the pitch I enjoyed watching, a big curve. He threw strikes and didn’t walk many, just 2.2 per 9 innings pitched, which would be 6th on the Jays all-time list if he had the 500 innings needed to be on the leader board.

Hall of Famer Tom Seaver told a story that a player on another team said to him that if they saw he had dirt on his knee, they would have a bad day from the drop and drag. So he started rubbing dirt on his knee before the game.

Casey seemed like a good guy. I felt bad that his career ended fairly suddenly, but he didn’t throw hard for a close and he lost a tick or two in those last couple of seasons. Sometimes 91 is enough to be a successful pitcher but 89-88 isn’t.

Here is a bit of video (also good for the Brett Lawrie celebration.

Janssen’s place on the Jays pitchers’ leader board:

Games: 5th, 389.

Saves: 5th, 90.

Innings pitched: 37th, 493.