The Five Greatest Blue Jays Closers of All-Time

(© imago images) MLB, Baseball Herren, USA Los Angeles Angels at Toronto Blue Jays, Aug 27, 2022 Toronto, Ontario, CAN Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports, Copyright: xJohnxE.xSokolowskix

The art of relief pitching is one that the Toronto Blue Jays have had in spades over their short MLB history. So much so that it brings the debate of who are the best relief pitchers to have ever played for the team? The list below ranks our picks.

#5 Paul Quantrill 

Paul Quantrill was known for being a workhorse at the end of the games, stacking up 65 or more appearances in four different seasons. His best season was in 1997, where he went 6-7 with a 1.94 ERA , five saves, and a 3.2 WAR. He followed up the next year with the record for the most appearances of his Jays career (82) while putting up a career-best seven saves.

#4 Casey Janssen 

The right-handed Casey Janssen posted an ERA of 3.52 during his reliable years as a BLue Jays reliever. He played in the fifth most number of games of all-time for the franchise while plugging in for a bunch of different roles. He first began his career as a starter but then moved on to various bullpen roles, which included middle-relief, and closing.  His best year came in 2011 when he went 6-0 with a 2.26 ERA.

#3 Mark Eichhorn 

One of the most underrated players in Jays’ history, Mark Eichorn is known for changing his sidearm action in the middle of his career due to injury. His best season came in 1986 when he went 14-6 on the season, with a 1.72 ERA and 10 saves over 157 innings of work. He was also given the nod as a Rookie of the Year finalist and placed sixth in Cy Young voting.

Eichhorn led the AL with 89 appearances in 1987 and returned for the Jays’ World Series winning years, where he showed his value alongside Duane Ward.

#2 Duane Ward

Ward was the heart of the relief pitching bullpen during the Blue Jays’ dominant years in the early 90s and an integral part of the World Series winning teams in 1992-93. While he took a backseat to Tom Henke during his early years, Ward made the premier relief pitching position his own soon after his departure. He put up his best season in 1993, with a 2.13 ERA, a career-high 3.0 WAR and record 45 saves. He was named an All-Star and was fifth in Cy Young voting that year.

#1 Tom Henke

Our pick for the best relief pitcher in Jays’ history is Tom Henke and it isn’t hard to see why. He is the team’s all-time leader in saves with 217 and extremely dominant during his 8 years in Toronto. He recorded at least 20 saves for six years in a row, including 30+ during the period of 1990-1992 and an American League-high 34 in 1987.  

Henke wasn’t quite appreciated in his time, finishing in the top 20 of AL MVP voting only twice and getting the All-Star nod only once in ‘87. His biggest achievement is arguably the great run he had on the way to the Jays’ World Series in 1992, where he was 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA in the postseason with five saves.

For more lists and rankings check out our Top 4 Greatest Shortstops in Blue Jays History and Top 5 Blue Jays Catchers of All-Time.

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