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Happy Birthday Jon Rauch

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And Len Matuszek, Jason Phillips and Matt Shoemaker

Philadelphia Phillies v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images

Jon Rauch turns 43 today.

Rauch was our closer for the 2011 season. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the best of years. A 4.85 ERA, 11 saves (5 blown saves) in 53 games. He gave up 11 home runs in 52 innings. He had 14 walks and 36 strikeouts in 52 innings. Not the strikeout numbers you want from your closer.

He missed time getting his appendix removed and with torn cartilage in his right knee.

But, he was quickly the scariest looking reliever we have ever had. This was his most famous moment with the Blue Jays:

At 6’11 and 290 pounds, I wouldn’t have wanted him charging at me. John Farrell is not a small man, but he looked small trying to wrestle Jon away from the umpire.

It is kind of unfair that the one moment most remembered from an 11-year career is something that was out of character for Jon, but such is life.

Rauch had an 11-year MLB career, playing for seven different teams. He pitched in 556 games, just 11 starts, had a 3.90 ERA and 62 saves. His best years were with the Nationals. He played five seasons in Washington, with a 3.24 ERA in 245 games.

Happy birthday Jon, hope it is a good one.

Len Matuszek turns 67 today.

You can be excused if you don’t remember he was a Blue Jay. The Jays traded for him at the start of the 1985 season, he played in 62 games, batting .212/.259/.318 with 2 home runs, splitting time between DH and first base.

Then, in early July, he was traded to the Dodgers for Al Oliver. Oliver, who was 38 and near the end of a good 18-year career, didn’t do much better than Len, slotting into the same spot, left half of a DH platoon. He hit .251/.282/.374 with 5 home runs. We made the playoffs for the first time that year, losing out to the Royals in 7 games in the ALCS. Al had a very good series hitting .375/.444/.500. He was so good that the Royals came up with a plan much like the ‘opener’. First, they would start a right-hander to get Oliver in the lineup. Then they would go to a lefty to get the Jays to use the right-handed halves of their platoons. Then in comes, Dan Quisenberry (their closer), knowing he wouldn’t have to face Oliver (and the Jays other lefties). Quisenberry, a submarine-style pitcher, was terrific against right-handed batters but not so good about lefties. In a more extended series, the Jays would have figured how to handle this strategy best, but in a 7-game series, they didn’t have a counter and would lose the last three games.

Matuszek had a seven-year MLB career, playing for the Phillies, Blue Jays, and Dodgers. In 379 games, he hit .234/.309/.405 in not really what you want out of a first baseman.

Happy Birthday, Len, I hope it is a good one.

Jason Phillips turns 45 today.

Jason was the backup catcher for us in 2006-2007. He played in 80 games and hit .219/.271/.302 backing up Gregg Zaun.

He had a seven-year MLB career, hitting .249/.314/.370 with 30 home runs in 465 games, playing with the Mets, Dodgers, and his last two seasons with the Jays. My memory is he was a good guy and reasonable defensive catcher who could also play first base.

He was a bullpen catcher for us in 2016 and coached in the minors for the Yankees.

Happy Birthday Jason

Matt Shoemaker turns 35 today.

You know the story. Matt made five terrific starts with a 1.57 ERA and then tore his ACL and his season was over. If you need a reminder of the play (there is a reason why teams don’t want their pitchers taking part in rundowns):

Matt would get into six games in 2020, with a 4.71 ERA, missing a month of the shortened season, with a shoulder injury.

Shoemaker signed with the Twins last winter, but things didn’t go well. He had an 8.06 after 16 appearances. So they released him on August 6th. Soon after he signed a minor league deal with the Giants.

Matt has pitched for nine seasons in the MLB, and has a 46-41 record with a 4.24 ERA in 128 games, 115 starts.

Happy Birthday, Matt. I hope it is a good one.