Over the course of the 37 year history of the Toronto Blue Jays franchise, there have really only been a handful of true workhorse starting pitchers.
Frankly, today’s definition of a “workhorse” pales in comparison to what it was a few decades ago. Where the 30 start benchmark is often lauded today as a strong season, pitchers back in the 70’s and 80’s were throwing well past 30 starts.
Some even went as deep as 40 starts in a season, which brings us to this week’s Flashback Friday. It’s Jim Clancy’s 1982 season in which he started 40 games for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Jim Clancy was the definition of a workhorse in every sense of the word. His 40 starts that season still stands as a Blue Jays franchise record, and with the way pitch counts and innings limits are monitored today, I very highly doubt that record will ever be broken.
The next closest pitcher on the list for single starts in a season belongs to Dave Stieb with 38, who coincidentally was also part of the Blue Jays rotation in 1982. Oddly enough, Stieb pitched more innings (288.1) than Clancy (266.2).
Also of note, Luis Leal also made 38 starts for the Blue Jays in 1982, which means their rotation had three pitchers who started 38 or more games that season. By today’s standards, that’s almost unfathomable.
If you do the math, Clancy himself started 25% of all of the Blue Jays games during the 1982 season. So instead of pitching every fifth turn, he essentially pitched every fourth turn. For the most part of 1982, the Blue Jays did employ a four-man starting rotation.
Clancy surpassed 200 innings pitched six times during his tenure as a Blue Jay, and he racked up 345 career starts with Toronto and surpassed 2204 innings pitched over the course of 12 seasons.
Image courtesy of Dunedin Blue Jays