Jesse Allen Litsch (born March 9, 1985) is an American former professional baseball pitcher. After working as a batboy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, he was drafted in the 24th round by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004, and played from 2007 to 2011, when his career was cut short by injuries. In March 2016, Litsch became the pitching coach for the Bridgeport Bluefish of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball.
Litsch with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011
|Born: March 9, 1985|
Pinellas Park, Florida
|May 15, 2007, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 25, 2011, for the Toronto Blue Jays|
|Earned run average||4.16|
On May 15, 2007, Litsch made his Major League debut with the Blue Jays, filling in for the injured Roy Halladay. Over 82⁄3 innings (the most innings pitched by any Blue Jay in his debut), Litsch allowed only 4 hits, with 2 walks and 1 run while recording 21 of his 26 outs via groundouts. Litsch became the first Blue Jays pitcher to win his debut since Gustavo Chacín beat the New York Yankees on September 20, 2004. As a result of his performance, Litsch made three more starts with the Jays. He was demoted back to Double-A after posting a 0–3 record with a 19.62 ERA in those three starts.
After an injury to A. J. Burnett, the Blue Jays recalled Litsch and he started against Boston on July 15, 2007. He yielded one run on 9 hits over 62⁄3 innings with 2 strikeouts and 1 walk, defeating Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox 2–1.
He came home to Tampa Bay on July 31, going 62⁄3 innings, giving up 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 2, with no earned runs. Litsch finished his first year in the majors 7–9 with a 3.89 ERA and 50 K/36 BB over 20 starts.
On May 24, 2008, the same day that Litsch pitched his first complete game and shutout, he also surpassed Jimmy Key's former franchise record by pitching 38 consecutive innings without walking a batter (Key's former mark was 34 1⁄3). In 2008, he threw cutters 43.4% of the time, the highest rate in the majors. Litsch would finish the 2008 season with a record of 13–9, a 3.58 ERA, and 99 strikeouts.
On April 14, 2009, he was sent to the 15-day DL because of a right forearm strain. On June 9, it was announced that Litsch would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. He made his first major league start since surgery on June 13, 2010 against the Colorado Rockies. Litsch struggled against the Rockies in his return from injury. He lasted only 21⁄3 innings and allowed 7 runs on 9 hits.
He regained his previous form in his next start against the San Francisco Giants on June 19 by going seven solid innings, allowing three hits in a 3-0 win.
Litsch was named the number 5 starter for the 2011 season. He made his 2011 debut on April 6 against the Oakland Athletics, getting the win and giving up 6 hits and 3 earned runs while striking out 7. He finished off the season with a 4.44 ERA and a 6-3 win-loss record over 75 innings pitched.
Litsch suffered a setback with his injured right shoulder early in 2012 training camp, and was shut down because of inflammation. He visited surgeon Dr. James Andrews for a full diagnosis that confirmed the inflammation and didn't find any structural damage. Litsch received a platelet-rich plasmas (PRP) injection to help with the healing process. The injection caused an unexpected serious infection, and Litsch was not allowed to throw for six weeks after undergoing emergency surgery. The infection sidelined him for the entire 2012 season.
On October 10, 2012, the Blue Jays announced that Litsch was coming off the 60-day disabled list, but had chosen free agency over an assignment to their Triple-A affiliate Buffalo Bisons. In December 2012, it was reported that Litsch was awaiting bone-graft and cartilage replacement surgery from a donor cadaver, and his career was in serious jeopardy. The surgery was performed on January 17, 2013, and Litsch was reported to be hopeful to pitch winter ball in late 2013.
After retiring, Litsch coached middle and high school players at a Major League Baseball development center in China. In January 2016, he announced that he would be the pitching coach for the Philippines national baseball team in their February World Baseball Classic qualifier. On March 1, 2016, the Bridgeport Bluefish hired Litsch to be their pitching coach for the 2016 season.
Litsch's main pitch was his four-seam fastball (87-93 mph), and could throw a two-seam fastball with considerable movement. He often used a cutter (85-89 mph) and a curveball (73-80 mph), and struggled with command of his changeup (79-82 mph).
- Topkin, Marc (May 14, 2007). "Litsch caps rapid rise with callup to Toronto". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
- "Litsch pitches into 9th, grabs first win in majors debut". ESPN.com. May 15, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-27.
- "Jesse Litsch Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- "Litsch pitches first shutout as Blue Jays beat Royals 6–0". AP. 2008-05-24. Retrieved 2008-05-24.[dead link]
- "Major League Leaderboards » 2008 » Pitchers » Pitch Type Statistics". FanGraphs. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- "Blue Jays face baseball's hottest pitcher". CBC.ca. 2010-06-11. Retrieved 2010-06-11.
- Lott, John (March 4, 2012). "Jays' Jesse Litsch out for six weeks after emergency surgery". news.nationalpost.com. Retrieved March 16, 2016.
- "Blue Jays Litsch elects free agency". MLB.com. October 10, 2012. Retrieved December 16, 2012.
- Davidi, Shi (December 20, 2012). "Ex-Jay Litsch awaiting landmark surgery". Sportsnet. Retrieved August 28, 2013.
- Cotillo, Chris (February 17, 2013). "Former Blue Jay Litsch has cartilage replacement surgery, will miss entire 2013 season". clnsradio.com. Retrieved May 21, 2014.
- C., Scott (August 21, 2014). "Former Blue Jays Pitcher Jesse Litsch Retires". bluebirdbanter.com. Retrieved August 21, 2014.
- "Dickey, Reyes star as Jays crush Rays 8–2". Sportsnet. September 2, 2014. Retrieved September 2, 2014.
- Davidi, Shi (January 26, 2016). "After seven surgeries, ex-Blue Jay Litsch taking up coaching challenge". Sportsnet. Retrieved January 26, 2016.
- "Jesse Litsch Named Bluefish Pitching Coach". bridgeportbluefish.com. March 1, 2016. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2013-05-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)