We have a few former Blue Jays with birthdays today.
Marcus Stroman turns 32 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 on May 31, picking up 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. During spring training, Stroman tore his anterior cruciate ligament and wouldn’t pitch until September. However, 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 drill 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.
In 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. Not every trade works
He made 11 starts for the Mets with a 4-2 record and a 3.77 ERA. He didn’t pitch in 2020. Marcus had a very good 2021 with a 3.02 ERA in 33 starts. And then signed with the Cubs before the 2022 season. In a season and a bit the0re he is 8-9 with a 3.26 ERA. Yeah, we’d be thrilled if he was still a Blue Jay
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).
He’ll always be a favourite of mine. I know his brashness, and (what’s the best word?) enthusiasm rubbed some people the wrong way, and he does play with a bit of a chip on his shoulder, likely earned since he was told his whole life that he wouldn’t be able to make it in the majors because of his size. But he has proven himself at 210 games into his MLB career.
Happy Birthday, Marcus.
Roy Lee Jackson turns 69 today.
Jackson came to the Jays from the Mets in trade for Bob Bailor in December of 1980.
He was a right-handed pitcher who went into our bullpen and became, 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.
He had a 3.50 ERA in 190 games in four seasons, 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, played a season with them, and then one more with the Twins.
Happy Birthday, Roy Lee.
Charlie O’Brien turns 63 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 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 is 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 liked him and fondly look back on his time with us.
Happy Birthday, Charlie.
It is also Rich Butler’s 50th birthday today.
Rich was an outfield prospect for the Blue Jays in the 1990s. Well, 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 call-up in 1997. He played in 7 games and hit .286/.375/.357 in 16 PA.
We lost Rich to the Devil Rays in the expansion draft after the season. In their first season, Rich played 72 games for the Rays, 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 didn’t return to the majors.
He had 86 MLB games, which isn’t bad for an undrafted player.
Happy Birthday, Rich.