Flashback Friday: Jesse Litsch’s Big League Debut

It was the kind of Major League debut that most pitchers can only dream of. But for one, Jesse Allen Litsch, it was reality.

For this week’s Flashback Friday at BJH, we take a look at Jesse Litsch’s historical big league debut from the 2007.

It seems like it was only yesterday when he was a mainstay in the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation. Due to a series of injuries and unfortunate circumstances, Litsch was forced to retire from the game prematurely.


Nonetheless, Jesse Litsch still has one of the best debuts ever by a Blue Jays starting pitcher. It still stands to this day as the most innings pitched by a Blue Jays starter in their MLB debut. That’s one record that may never be broken.

It was May 15th, 2007. Jesse Litsch had been called up and made a start in place of Roy Halladay, who hit the disabled list after having an impromptu appendectomy. Litsch made the leap from Double A New Hampshire

Litsch faced the Baltimore Orioles in his debut, and here’s his impressive pitching line from the game.


Jesse Litsch 8.2 4 1 1 3 1 0 1.04 30 99 66 5 18 21 5 70

Incredibly, Litsch came just strike away from throwing a complete game in his very first start in the Major Leagues; something that’s almost unheard of today in an era of pitch counts and inning caps.

Jesse Litsch didn’t even crack 100 pitches in his debut as his manager John Gibbons gave him the hook with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. He predominately pitched to contact as 21 of the 26 outs that Litsch recorded were on ground balls.

It was kind of fitting that Jesse Litsch was filling in for Roy Halladay because it was a very Halladay-esque start; lots of ground ball outs, not many walks, and lots of broken bats.

Prior to the game, the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk spoke to Jesse Litsch about getting called up to the big leagues. Can you tell he might have been a little nervous?

“I’m just taking it all in stride, whatever comes, comes. This is
definitely the biggest stride I’ve taken, best stride I’ve taken. It’s a
big ordeal for me. I mean deal, not ordeal. And, I mean, I’m ready to

Not only was this start a momentous occasion for Jesse himself, but also for his father Rick Litsch. He was watching from the stands as his son pitched a sparkling debut (on his birthday, too!).


Needless to say, that incredible performance by his son was all the birthday gift that Rick Litsch needed.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.