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Blue Jays Birthdays: Mike Flanagan

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees

It has been a busy few days around here, and last night, there was a Christmas party for a company my wife has been working with. It went pretty late for those who stayed to the very end. So, today has been a very slow day.

Mike Flanagan was a left-handed pitcher who played in the majors for 18 seasons—four with the Blue Jays.

He would have turned 72 today, but he passed away back in 2011.

He was an excellent pitcher; you don’t play for 18 years without being a good pitcher. He finished 167-143 with a 3.90 ERA in 526 games, 404 starts.

For the first 13 years, he played with the Orioles. His best season was 1979. He went 23-9 with a 3.08 ERA in 39 games, with 38 starts pitching 265 innings. He won his Cy Young award that year. He was part of an outstanding pitching staff. In 1980, he gave nicknames to pitchers on the staff. He called himself ‘Cy Young’, Jim Palmer ‘Cy Old’, Steve Stone, who would win the award that year, Cy Present and Storm Davis ‘Cy Future’. Davis had great ‘stuff’ but never put it all together. He also said that when you are done, you are called Cy-onara.

We picked him up in a trade from the Orioles on August 31 for Oswaldo Peraza (who would pitch 19 games in his MLB career) and Jose Mesa (who would go on to have a 19-year MLB career, throwing primarily out of the bullpen, he finished with 321 saves. His best season was 1995 when he had a 1.13 ERA and 46 saves).

The Jays wanted Flanagan for the playoff run. We were in second place when we got him, just one game back from the Tigers.

If you are old enough, you will forever remember the 1987 season. The Jays had a terrific start to September, going 19-5 and running off a 7-game winning streak from September 20 to 26. That put us 3.5 games ahead of the Tigers with seven games to play. Unfortunately, we lost all 7 of those games, 4 to the Tigers and finished in second place.

Flanagan had a nice run, making 7 starts with a 2.37 ERA. His last start was the second last game of the season, a game we needed to win since we were a game back from the Tigers. Flanagan pitched 11 innings, leaving with a 2-2 tie. Mike gave up 1 earned and 1 unearned run (that was the game of the Manny Lee error). If you wanted to list great starts in Blue Jays history, that one has to be on the list. Bob Elliot sent an email reminding me of the game and mentioning that, when he was taking out of the game, Flanagan said, “So you just want the 11 from me today?”. Unfortunately, Jack Morris also had a good start that day, allowing just 2 runs in 9 innings.

He would pitch three more seasons with the Jays (well, two plus a month; he was released May 8. 1990). He was 26-27 with a 3.94 ERA in 76 starts with the Jays. He made a start in our ALCS loss to the A’s in 1989, taking the loss in game 4, giving up 5 runs in 4.1 innings in our 6-5 loss. He gave up 2 home runs to Rickey Henderson and 1 to Jose Canseco.

Flanagan signed with the Orioles in 1991 and pitched out of the bullpen, putting up a 2.38 ERA in 64 appearances.

He would go on to become a pitching coach and a broadcaster. Then, the VP of baseball operation was all for the Orioles.

Flanagan was a great interviewee; he had a great sense of humour. I remember liking him for his personality more than his pitching. By the time he was with the Jays, he was more of a junk ball pitcher than someone who got you out with great stuff. He threw a slow curve and a change. He would also drop to sidearm at times.

Unfortunately, he suffered from depression and took his own life in 2011. The Orioles didn’t retire his number (46), but no Oriole has worn it since 2012.

Tyler Chatwood turns 34 today.

Chatwood played 10 seasons in the majors. As you likely will remember, one of those was with the Blue Jays.

He was pretty good for the first couple of months of the 2021 season. On May 22nd, he had a 0.53 and had 9 holds. Then, on May 23rd, he gave up four earned runs, taking the loss. On May 30th (a game that, unfortunately, is cemented into my memory), he walked five batters, gave up two earned, and took another loss. In his next outing, he gave up five earned.

After that, he had a run of 8 games without a hit (or run) allowed. But he gave up five runs in two outings, totalling one inning. Soon after that, he was released. The Giants, Pirates, and Diamondbacks signed him and released him before the end of the season.

During his career, he pitched in 229 games 143 starts, with a 52-60 record, a 4.45 ERA with 5 saves, and 15 holds (11 with the Blue Jays).

Happy Birthday, Tyler.