Card thoughts: Oh boy, am I bored with these interchangeable Blue Jay head shots of indistinguishable white pitchers.
The player: With a long career as a high-ERA innings eater, it seemed the Blue Jays were always waiting for Clancy’s raw stuff (one of the best sliders in the game, an overpowering fastball) to translate into a consistently winning season. Every year, however, Clancy would get himself involved in a bunch of a blow outs that raised his ERA a bunch, which belied his effectiveness in other starts. Edwin Jackson of the Cubs comes to mind as a similarly frustrating pitcher.
An original Blue Jay, he was selected from the Rangers minor league system in the expansion draft, despite pitching consistently poorly there. He made it to the majors later in 1977, but his first full time season was in ’78, where he had a typical season for him: a near .500 record, with an ERAs north of 4.
After a few more inconsistent years, mostly marred by injury, Clancy had an great campaign in 1982, starting a league high 40 games (I guess the thought was then the injuries allowed a pitcher to “rest” his arm), and pitching the fourth inning of the all star game. Clancy ended the year 16-14 and a career high 266 innings pitched.
Another good season followed in 1983 (15-11), but in 1984, he was pretty terrible (13-15, 5.16 ERA). Despite this, he was still run out there all the time, and led the league once in again in games started. Clancy was injured much of the season shown on this card (only 23 starts), so he wasn’t much of a factor in the playoffs (1 inning pitched, 1 run given up). But the next three seasons were typical Clancy: Lots of decisions, leading to both double digit wins and losses, high ERAs (for the time), and lots of innings pitched.
The Astros signed him as a starter for the 1988 season, but he was very hittable (9.5 hits per nine innings), before being demoted to the bullpen. The same thing happened the following season, where his bloated 6.51 ERA got him exiled for a time to Tuscon.
By 1991, he was no longer a starter. Traded midway through the season to Atlanta, after he posted a 2.78 ERA in 55 innings (with 5 saves) with the Astros, he pitched poorly down the stretch, but was kept on the post-season roster. He ended his career by pitching 4+ innings in the World Series.
Rear guard: Clancy's first win came against the Brewers and it was a complete game. By giving up just 2 runs in 9 innings, he lowered his ERA from his ghastly major league debut (22.50) where he gave up 5 runs in 2 innings.