Jesse Allen Litsch
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 205 lb.
- Schools South Florida Community College
- High School Dixie Hollins High School
- Debut May 15, 2007
- Final Game September 25, 2011
Jesse Litsch pitched five seasons in the majors.
In 2001, Litsch entered an essay contest about why he would want to intern with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays; he won and became the club's batboy. After high school, he was drafted in the 37th round of the 2003 amateur draft by the Colorado Rockies but did not sign.
After a year at South Florida Community College in which he was named to the Baseball America All-America Junior College team, he was drafted in the 24th round of the 2004 amateur draft by the Toronto Blue Jays.
Litsch was taken as a "draft-and-follow" and was signed by scout Tony Arias in 2005. He went 5-1 with a 2.74 ERA for the Pulaski Blue Jays, allowing a .212 average and striking out 67 while walking 10 in 65 2/3 IP. In 4 games for the Auburn Doubledays, he was 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA. He finished third in the Appalachian League in ERA and was rated the #6 prospect in the league by Baseball America.
Jesse split 2006 between the Dunedin Blue Jays (6-6, 3.53 in 16 games, but with 81 K to 8 BB in 89 1/3 IP) and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (3-4, 5.06, 54 K to 13 BB in 69 1/3 IP, but a .309 opponent average). He led Toronto farmhands with 3 complete games.
He dominated the Eastern League in the early weeks of the 2007 season, going 5-1 with an 0.96 ERA for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. He was called up to the Toronto Blue Jays when ace Roy Halladay was put on the disabled list because of an appendectomy. Litsch gave his best Halladay impression in his Major League debut on May 15, allowing a single run on four hits in 8 2/3 innings to pick up a 2-1 win. It was the longest outing ever for a Blue Jay pitcher making his first Major League appearance. While the original plan was for a short stay, the Jays quickly put him into the rotation, moving Tomo Ohka to the bullpen. He ended the season with a 7-9 record and a creditable 3.81 ERA (122 ERA+) in 20 starts.
Litsch took another step forward in 2008, spending almost the entire season in the Blue Jays' starting rotation and putting up very solid numbers: he went 13-9 in 28 starts, with 99 strikeouts in 176 innings, a 3.58 ERA, and 2 shutouts, tied for the American League lead.
After a great 2008 season, Jesse had a rough start in 2009. During an outing against the Minnesota Twins on April 13th, he felt pain in his right forearm and elbow during the first inning. He soldiered on until the fourth inning before being pulled by manager Cito Gaston. He was then placed on the 15-day DL and Toronto called Bill Murphy up from their AAA affiliate in Las Vegas to replace Litsch on the roster, and never made it back to the majors that year. 2010 was another frustrating season, as injuries limited him to 9 starts, during which he was an ineffective 1-5, 5.79.
Litsch started the 2011 season in the Blue jays' starting rotation and made 8 starts in April and May, going 4-3, 4.66. He was injured again, and did not come back until late July, at which point the Jays had decided to use his as a power right-hander out of the bullpen, to take advantage of his excellent splits against right-handed batters. He settled quickly into his new role and earned his first major league save on August 10th against the Oakland Athletics. He was 6-3 wit ha save and a 4.44 ERA in 28 games on the year to end his MLB career at 27-27, 4.16 (104 ERA+).
Injuries and illness sidelined him for all of 2012; the Jays let him go and he officially retired in 2014, not having thrown a pitch since 2011. He coached for the Philippines national team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers.
- AL Shutouts Leader (2008)