During the 6th inning of tonight’s Toronto Blue Jays-New York Yankees game, I saw LaTroy Hawkins warming up in the bullpen. In a 21-year career, Hawkins has pitched 1465.0 innings, primarily as an arm out of the bullpen, with a 75-94 record and 4.32 ERA. He’s never been a lights-out closer, nor a fearsome starter. He’s had an effective, yet widely average career, with perseverance and durability helping him to consistently find work. Hawkins has been to the playoffs with the Minnesota Twins (in 2002 & ’03), Colorado Rockies (’07), and Milwaukee Brewers (’11). He has been to the World Series once. That was with the Rockies, who were dismantled by the Boston Red Sox.
In terms of seasons played in the majors, this makes Hawkins the longest-tenured, active major leaguer. That’s two years longer than his old playoff teammate, Torii Hunter. Hawkins also probably has the most dedicated fan club, who no longer care what team he’s pitching for.
The Blue Jays are Hawkins’s 11th team. Could they be well-poised enough to make a strong push into the World Series and get Hawkins – who’s said this season will be his last at 42 years of age – that ever-elusive ring?
Currently, the Jays are leading the Yankees 4-1 in the bottom of the eighth, trying to extend their AL East lead to 3.5 games. Before this game began, FanGraphs had the Jays as a virtual lock (100% to win the division or make a wild card spot) to make the playoffs. Hawkins can be pretty confident that he’s going to the postseason, but for how long is the impossible question. That Jays offense always gives them a good chance to win. However, the old adage is that, “In the playoffs, good pitching always beats good hitting.” Will their bats be able to overcome what postseason history has taught us?