The McGowan Question

mcgowanwalksoff

As I do on far too many nights, I spent a good portion of last night arguing with hopeless doomsayers about how ridiculous it is to draw broad, definite conclusions from tiny samples of data. It was more complicated than that — and more profane, of course, and also a little bit about morons booing their own team as though anybody needs to hear pissy hyperventilating about an outcome their poor little souls can’t deal with like adults — but that really does seem to be the essence of my interactions with the living, breathing straw men out there.

Actually, that key nuance seems to be at the root of much of the general disconnect I hear on a lot of advanced stuff these days, especially when said stats are being slagged by willfully ignorant mainstream guys guffawing at single-game CORSI or two weeks of the defensive component of WAR, as though anybody who believes these newfangled numbers add value to our understanding of sports defends them to the death without even the most basic understanding how to apply them properly. Funny how people who can’t be arsed to learn anything about those kinds of things end up saying awfully stupid shit about them, isn’t it?

Hey, but it’s their brand suicide, right? And so I digress. As for last night, though, a funny thing happened along the way to my petty triumph over these people who, bizarrely, actually exist: Dustin McGowan — whose short outings so far this season, including this most recent one, while certainly a trend to be monitored closely, were nothing remotely yet like some kind reason to send a very talented pitcher immediately packing from the rotation — acknowledged that he’s been finding himself fatigued around the 60 pitch mark of his starts so far.

“The body just feels like I run out of steam just a little bit,” he told reporters, including John Lott of the National Post, who points out that the first six pitches McGowan threw in his final inning of work, the fifth, were balls. “I shouldn’t be feeling that. I should be at a point where I can go 90 to 100, especially the way my arm feels. It feels great.”

Ugh. In other words, what was very reasonably a mild concern around the time McGowan was exiting yet another game — perhaps a bit early (I mean… it sure as fuck couldn’t have gone worse leaving him in, though obviously John Gibbons couldn’t have known as much at the time), but rather understandably, given the admission — is now a thing. And, most unfortunately, a thing that’s probably not going to be overcome by pulling McGowan after 70 pitches, as the manager felt he had to last night.

Worse yet — and this has become something of a common refrain for me, as the criticism of the Jays’ rotation gets louder, day by bullpen-taxing day — McGowan wasn’t even that bad last night. Yes, he again left too many balls up, hung a slider to Chris Davis in the first, and coughed a couple of runs back to Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz in the third, but if he catches the tailor-made double play ball off the bat of Jonathan Schoop in the fifth — one batter ahead of the HBP to David Lough, who was still on first base when Cruz destroyed a Todd Redmond pitch for a grand slam — things would have looked a whole lot different.

The same can be said of certain moments in R.A. Dickey’s season so far, as well, I think. And while those frustrating things did happen, and we can’t entirely excuse the outcomes, looked at as pitching performances, while too many times there has obviously been a lot left to be desired, these guys have at least been giving the Jays something to work with on a pretty regular basis. Not enough, especially in terms of innings, but… I don’t know, wouldn’t you rather the guys with the best stuff not giving you quite the number of innings you want, rather than the other way around, trying to eke out innings on the backs of guys whose stuff doesn’t rate? Neither is ideal, obviously, but the guys with the stuff sure as fuck have a better chance of getting to a point where they can log the innings than the guys with the stamina have of ever magically taking a step forward in terms of stuff. Right?

In other words: can anyone blind and desperate enough to go there please just stop talking about Todd Redmond or J.A. Happ assuming McGowan’s place in the rotation, as though four starts of from the guy — an injury-riddled diabetic who, let us remember, came into the year with just 95 live innings pitched over three seasons, and who was well behind the other starters in Spring Training — are going to tell us all we need to know about where he’s going to end up.

Does that mean that the Jays can give him all the rope he possibly needs to get right? No, clearly they need to strike a balance between what’s better in both the short- and the long-term this season. But I can’t possibly imagine how fans would be able to see it as anything but hugely disappointing if the club decided right now that they’ve seen enough, even if it were to mean the promotion of Marcus Stroman — maybe even especially if it meant the promotion of Stroman. But especially Bart if it means turning the ball over to the goddamn dreck.

The experiment has only worked so far in its easiest facet — McGowan has at least kept the seat warm for the next guy without entirely killing the club in the process — and I can fully admit that maybe I’m too emotionally invested in the romance of McGowan’s comeback story to be seeing straight on all this, but I really do believe there’s a lot more there. And the only way we’ll ever see it is if he gets more innings to work with before giving up.

Do they have to be big league innings? Not even necessarily. McGowan’s next scheduled start falls on Monday’s off-day. If they have any sense at all, the Jays ought to skip him in the rotation — work on his stamina and conditioning, and let him get to at least 100 pitches in a simulated game — and then see where he’s at for his next turn, a week from Saturday in Pittsburgh. Um… y’know, assuming a simulated game will be enough of a proxy for live action to test his durability. Or… actually, even if it isn’t. It’s the best they’ve got. He’s the best they’ve got — especially since you won’t be seeing him getting stretched out again if the club sends him back to the bullpen and moves someone bound to fail (like Redmond or Happ), or even someone who simply might fail (like Stroman) into his place. So they might as well see it the fuck through.

Yes, a whole lot of why he’s in this position is by default, because nobody else looked capable of claiming the role coming out of the spring, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t very, very good reason why four weeks ago his was an arm we were dreaming on. He’s stayed healthy, and that was really supposed to be the big concern. It’s been ugly so far, and the outings have been short, but let’s hope we get to really see what McGowan can do before they call it off.

Unless McGowan himself is privately telling the team that he simply doesn’t think his body can do it, continuing to hope on him just a little bit longer makes all the sense in the world. No, really.

Comments (174)

  1. It’s a bad sign that he’s admitting that, but McGowan has bigger problems than stamina right now. He’s not commanding his FB (which has dropped off significantly in terms of velocity) and his slider has been incredibly inconsistent. Even in his one “good” start at Baltimore, it was only a strong wind blowing in that kept him from allowing multiple HRs. I wasn’t a fan of the team throwing him out there to begin the season without much (if any) real preparation and I haven’t seen anything that would change my mind yet.

    As much distaste as the fans have for Happ, he at least has a major league pedigree for being mediocre. It’s certainly not ideal (in the same way that the team not having a major league starting 2B isn’t), but I’d probably take that right now at the #5 over betting on Dustin McGowan to be a viable major league starter at this stage of his career.

    • You’re not wrong, but I would simply argue that this isn’t something that needs to be decided right now. Obviously the bullpen is quite a different animal, but last year he didn’t nearly have such a FB rate, so I’m not sure about being certain it’s going to stay like this. The velocity drop is quite large, yes, but it was going to drop at least a little bit moving into a starting role, and is maybe being compounded by the fatigue issue. Something will definitely have to change, but even though it was mostly — though not entirely — against lesser competition, he certainly had it all working in spring.

      I don’t know how long he continues to be allowed to skate on that — it’s not like he’s Josh Johnson last year, where they really had no option but to keep throwing him out there — but you’re right that it shouldn’t be long.

      In other words, I guess our difference is small, because I’m OK with another start or two to see any signs of progress. A third, however, would seem definitely like too much if nothing changes.

      • Fair enough. I grant that four starts really isn’t much of anything to judge anybody on. I just think there is probably a better time for this kind of experiment than April of a contending year (and a season that could even determine the outcome of this entire era if the organization’s history is any indication). These games are just too important to waste that many of them waiting for him to show something.

        • At the end of the day, he’s been a little wild and he’s given up a ton of rockets. It’s not that I don’t see anything there, it’s that running him out there as a “starter” is clearly not working. Unless they want to go rigorously with the piggybacking people suggested in ST (his outing would have looked palatable after 4 IP), then he should either be stretching out in an extended ST-type format or back in the pen.

        • All games are important yet all games are just one game. Its still April and the other options do not have the ceiling that McGowan has. And the point that Stoeten made that really needs to not be forgotten is that you cant send McGowan to the pen and then try to reverse and go back to the rotation when Happ/Rogers/Redmond eventually blow up. Jays need to stay the course until he gets it right or he gets injured which ever comes first.

    • Can understand your frustration over McGowan, however the powers that be couldn’t decide whether to allow him to be a starter which was what he wanted and requested. Had they stretched him out fully during Spring training, the quality which has always been there prior to injuries would obviously come through the low innings rate is due ti not stretching him out properly and only deciding in the last week or so of spring training to make him a starter.
      Relax he can do it. The guy needs positive vibes around him not negative crap being thrown on the wall.

      • except he couldn’t be stretched out in spring training because he was sick.

        • Exactly, I didn’t mention him being sick during Spring Training. Relax, give him some time to adjust he will come through. For the past six or so years people have been saying he is finished because of the multiple injuries he has endured. He hasn’t quit and I don’t see him quitting now he has his dream of being a starting pitcher.

  2. I not sure he has it in him to remain a starter much longer. He leaves the ball up way too much, and he hasn’t really looked very good, save for a couple innings here and there. Having said that, I still prefer him over Redmond/Happ/Rogers, and I’m sure they’d like to give Stroman at least another couple starts in AAA.

    Even if he starts in his next regular turn, it’s in KC, which would be at least help keep the ball in the park. The next one after that would be in Pittsburgh. I’d bet he gets those two starts and go from there.

  3. He still has the highest upside of our 5th options on the ML roster I think. Happ does indeed have pedigree of being mediocre. Though would he even be an “upgrade” to McGowan? I don’t ever recall Happ getting past 6IP regularly off the top of my head. I still want to see what McGowan can offer. It’s too bad he got the flu early on in ST.

    • Happ has averaged a little over 5 innings a start over the last three seasons with a FIP in the low 4s. That would be an upgrade over what McGowan has shown so far.

      I should add that I’m not completely against the idea of McGowan starting. There may yet be something there (even if it really doesn’t look like it at the moment). This just seems like the kind of experiment you should be trying after your season inevitably goes to shit, not to start an important season off that you’re trying to contend in.

      • Wonder how much longer till stroman takes Dustin’s spot in the rotation

        • When can Stroman be called up so the Jays can avoid starting his service time? Its in May right?

      • Yeah, that’s what I recall. Just barely 5 innings. Surprised by the FIP in the low 4s. I guess it is an improvement over McGowan’s 4+ innings. I’d be fine with either going forward, but would still like to see if McG can turn it around. It’s at least a good sign that he isn’t saying he’s totally gassed. As long as Happ’s issues with his back or control or over with. A steady 5.1IP 6H 3ER 3BB 4K every 5th day ain’t so bad.

  4. Stroman has pitched 20.2 innings in AAA over 4 starts (5 innings per start). How do we expect the trend to get better with him?

  5. The Jays are still two players away from being a really good club.
    They need one more quality starter (one that doesn’t give me the nervous heeby-jeebies that McGown does after the 4th inning) – and one more quality bat off the bench. Sorry, putting Diaz in as a P/H doesn’t really instill fear in the opposition
    Two guys – and the Promised Land gets closer.

  6. Read an article this week about the Astros piggybacking starters, much like spring training or in the minors, as the Jays have done. Might be an option for McGowan and Happ very fifth day. Or hell, Dickey and Morrow. Joke! Mostly…

    • Nah.

    • Well they have 3 long men now, so one or two starters not going deep shouldn’t be an issue.

      • That’s essential what they did yesterday, though 9 runs were already on the board at the time.

      • You’d think that, but it is. Mostly because all their long-men are replacement level in the first place and aren’t likely to give you 3, 4 solid innings.

        Part of it too, though, has been that the Jays haven’t been OUT of any of these short starts much, so Gibby has to use the better guys in the pen instead of just tossing the long-men out there to get hit.

    • I dont understand why they dont just leave the long man in for the rest of the game sometimes. Like Redmond has come in in the 4th – 6th a few times then went 2-3 innings with the bullpen finishing off the last couple. Maybe not a set piggyback schedule but just leave the long man in for the 4-6 innings and give him 3-4 days off afterwards and rest the entire rest of the pen in those games. Could do this with 2 long men then leave the high leverage relievers for the close games in between.

  7. Ah, yes. Your disdain for your audience. I had forgotten why i had deleted the bookmark to your blog.

    I guess i decided to give you a second shot. I guess i decided to take a flyer out on you and give you a chance at a comeback season. Maybe it hasnt been long enough, maybe you deserve two more times through the rotation? But all in all, it’s not entertaining to hear about you ‘battling with idiots’ – when they’re just people disagreeing with you.

    Even if they are idiots, you end up looking like the least charming man in sports, a Wilner 2.0 my friend. Maybe a couple simulated posts in AAA mjght help you?

    • Except that he’s referring to a very small percentage of this blog’s audience. Those of us who know what we’re talking about cheer this kind of thing on.

    • See Ya!

    • Clever. Well, except for the bit where you completely misunderstand everything I say and do, but other than that.

    • So you didn’t *really* read the post.

    • Wilner 2.0, eh? You sound like a Jays Talk caller. Have fun arguing about how a so-so 20-win pitcher on a good team is better than Felix Hernandez!

    • People who don’t understand SSS are idiots.

      It’s like if you believe the earth is only 5000 years old. You’re an idiot.

      Only after you’ve been called it enough and finally accept it, can we help you attain understanding and knowledge..

      • Think lots of people understand the SSS thing but there is more lack of understanding of what is the SSS impact in regards to different stats. Some metrics are not very precise / predictive and so require a much larger sample to have confidence in (UZR) while more can be infered from a small sample of other stats (OPS) while also many of these things shouldn’t be considered in a vacuum and need to consider how other things are impacting them instead of assuming too much from them without consideration (BABIP)

  8. Keep McGowan in rotation, but expect only 4 innings, then begin inning 5 with Redmond/Rogers. Redmond should NOT have come into last night’s game with bases loaded. He struggles third time around the line up any way. Release Happ and bring Stroman up to pen to begin his career; spot start him after All-Star game.

  9. Bang on. It’s only 4 starts. He isn’t killing the team and I agree that he could certainly improve with a few more starts.

    Assuming he doesn’t totally implode, I would give him another 4 starts to show an ability to get into 7th inning. And really that is all you can ask out of your 5th starter.

    Happ or Redmond are not going to be any better and they don’t have the upside of Dustin.

  10. ok new plan, dickey and mcgowan piggy-back every start

  11. The Blue Jays can’t afford to wait until the sample is big enough to be statistically meaningful. They can’t wait to let Dustin McGowan figure it out. They want to contend in 2014.

    And McGowan has given no indication he is the pitcher he was in 2007-2008. He’s not striking out enough guys, he’s walking too many, he’s giving up too many homers, and his groundball rate is in Todd Redmond territory.

    Ontop of all those early season metrics you can see that his arsenal isn’t good enough to fool guys the 3rd time through the order. His fastball, slider combo is a reliever’s arsenal, not a starter’s.

    Add to that his own physical concerns and conditioning issues and it’s plain that allowing McGowan to start again doesn’t make any rational sense for this team, on the cusp of contention. The only way it makes sense is if you’re consumed by nostalgia. You can still pull for the guy but be realistic that he doesn’t have the stuff to start right now.

    It’s fun and easy to shit on JA Happ because he’s average or slightly below average but the fact remains that he has a track record. He’s not going to give you great innings but he’s going to give you average innings, and he’s done it over his career, and that’s much more than you can say about McGowan.

    • Well put, but I’d say you’re entirely jumping the gun, which is kind of entirely my point. He’s a work in progress, don’t forget.

    • Walking too many? In 3 of his 4 starts, he only walked 1 batter. He walked 4 in Minnesota, but that may well have been an outlier game because who the fuck builds an outdoor stadium in the tundra?

      Even in this small sample size, he’s walking batters at the same rate he did back when he was considered nearly Halladay’s equal.

      But I won’t quibble with the rest of what you said.

      • he’s walking too many relative to his K, HR and GB rates. if his peripherals matched his 2007-2008 numbers he could get away with walking 3.5 guys a game. he can’t now.

  12. I’m more interested in Gibbers curious use of the bullpen. up 3 in the 5th with bases loaded if your going to pull the cord on Dusty why do you go with Redmond. Why do you not go to a more top end bullpen guy in that high leverage a situation? You can use Redmond or Happ the next inning when they can start with nobody on base.

    • It’s worth discussing, but at the same time, Redmond had been fantastic before last night.

      • I didn’t believe you and then I looked at his numbers…. God Damn it. It didn’t feel like he had been fantastic. I’ll shut up now.

      • Even so, I feel like Redmond’s role is different (James brought this up a bit on twitter as well). Like, is Redmond a particularly high-leverage guy? I would assume since he’s a long man it makes the most sense to start him in a clean inning, or at least in a less insanely high-leverage situation.

        Hindsight is 20/20 though, obviously, and that was noooooot a great time for any reliever to be entering.

      • Not in those situations though. That situation screams for a high leverage reliever to try to get out of that situation with as little damage as possible. I don’t know Brett Cecil’s stats against Cruz – but with Markakis and Davis coming up (at least to me) the situation screams for a lefty who can get strikeouts and has a good groundball rate.. not a righty who can struggle to get K’s and who has a high FB rate and low GB rate.

        Why not use Cecil (or Loup) in the high leverage spot and let Redmond clean up innings the next inning when there is nobody on base?

        I’m not pissing and moaning. That was a game the Jays could have won even with the grand slam given up. But It seems to me that that was a clear cut case where the manager may have contributed to the loss.

        • In theory, it make sense. In practice, you almost never see a manager use a relief ace that early in the game, though. The situation worsened quite quickly and Redmond had done great all month before that, so I don’t think you can really blame him much.

          Still, as HR prone as he is, I couldn’t help but think at the time I would have gone with somebody else.

          • I can blame him for sure. He put the pitcher in who is most likely to give up a fly ball in a situation where a groundball was needed. Poor decision.

            • He DID do that, guys – in McGowan’s previous outing. Which led to the entire bullpen being burned though, and the subsequent 8th inning meltdown.

              The happy medium is turning to a Cecil type to save the lead in the fourth and then asking Redmond to pick up two or three clean innings. But I can understand Gibby’s reluctance. That’s the thing with McGowan starts early in the season: he makes it easy to kill the manager because he puts the bullpen in such an awkward position. It’s not unworkable with the 8 man bullpen but now we’re back to piggybacking.

              • That’s true, he did use Loup last time in a similar situation when McGowan was on the verge of blowing it against Minnesota. Would have been a better choice there considering his strike throwing/ground ball tendencies (although he pitched Tuesday and was coming off a very poor outing prior to that).

              • He DIDN’T do that actually.

                He pulled McGowan and then had Loup pitch 2 innings followed by Neil Wagner, Cecil, Delabar, Santos and THEN Happ.

                I’m arguing for the use of either Cecil or Loup to get 3 outs in the inning with the bases loaded and then moving to a long guy with a clean slate at the top of the next inning utilizing the strengths of the pitchers for what they are used to doing.

                If you’re going to have an 8 man pen – for fucks sake – please use your long men.. but don’t be inserting them into a game with the bases loaded and none out. There is a difference between using one guy in a spot where the scenario calls for his skills and committing to using every arm you have.

                • Yes, what you’re saying makes complete sense in theory. A relief ace should always be used in the highest leverage spots. But as I said, in practice, you just don’t see it done that often so early. It’s almost like complaining about Gibbons not hitting Bautista #2 (despite the fact that it would be statistically the best place for him) or even using a “closer” at all.

                  Honestly, I was just happy he pulled McGowan when he did instead of letting him try to get a win. At least he’s not a stickler to that particular baseball convention.

            • Meh, I see egregious managerial errors usually every night watching baseball and that wasn’t one of them. Could be worse.

    • Managing to the save.

    • Agree 100%.

      I’m guessing Gibby’s thinking was, they were up three, and Redmond could get out of it, giving up 3 runs or less. Plus 1 or 2 more scoreless innings. He was wrong.

      • Yeah, I have a hard time faulting Gibbons for that move, especially with the way Redmond had been pitching up to that point. In general, though, I would like to see him use the best relievers in the highest leverage situations, regardless of what inning it is. They could have gone with Cecil to try to get out of the jam with the least damage possible, then brought Redmond in to start the next inning. But… hindsight and such…

        • Its not hindsight if you do away with the outcome.

          What was the best possible scenario? Probably a strikeout followed by a ground ball double play. Given that that is what you are trying to accomplish who on the bull pen would you use? You don’t need to know the actual outcome to make an informed opinion about who would have been the best choice.

          Further – what is the worst case scenario? Probably a walk or two followed by a grand slam – but lets just call it a grand slam. Given what we know about the pitchers available down in the bull pen, and the fact that in that scenario a fly ball is a bad outcome why is Redmond a good choice even if he has pitched pretty well? He has the highest flyball rate on the team and the lowest groundball rate. Unsurprisingly, Cecil has the lowest flyball rate on the team followed by Loup. Compound that fact with the reality that with the bases loaded – 2 of the next 3 hitters are left handed in the lineup, there is no hindsight needed to see that decision as a poor one.

          • Well-reasoned, but would you have come to this conclusion and written this comment if the move worked out? I wager: 100% no, you definitely would not have. Therefore, this is hindsight.

            • How long does it take to get a reliever warmed up in April?

              Remember, Redmond was up and warming before things went to shit. Once things were bad, Gibbons could either go with the reliever who was already ready (and had fantastic results so far this season) or try to rush someone out there with a better GB rate.

              Sort of a lose-lose situation.

              • this is a good point – though my counter to it is to not use the long man as your first guy out if the starter is struggling. On top of that Lough – the #9 hitter is also a lefty which only makes the case for Cecil or Loup better (though I fully admit that wasn’t part of my original assessment of the scenario).

            • “Well-reasoned, but would you have come to this conclusion and written this comment if the move worked out? I wager: 100% no, you definitely would not have. Therefore, this is hindsight.”

              Lol I’m glad it all comes down to your gut feel on your wager and the totally arbitrary percentage chance you’ve assigned to my ability to decide this was a bad move if it had worked out.

              Except for the part where I said.. you know.. “this was a bad decision even if you throw out the outcome”, and proceeded to outline the case for it.

              If it worked out I would have said it was a bad decision where Gibby got lucky. Only it didn’t.

    • You have to warm guys up before you put them in the game.

  13. Chad Jenkins come on down!

  14. Selfishly hoping they do not skip dustin in his next start so I don’t have to watch him live in Pittsburgh next week.

    On the larger topic, hoping they get Stroman up here by June…

  15. I agree this is the best course of action considering where we are at and what resources we have.

    I still vacillate between despair and rage at us not acquiring a single starter over the offseason.

    On that note, can someone tell me what would have been bad about taking Santana for 4 years? Is there some metric that says he’ll be good this year and then suddenly suck? Is he one of these fake birth certificate guys that is really 39 years old? Ugh.

    • Santana wouldn’t have signed a four year deal. He wanted a one year deal to build value and try again to get a big contract next off season.

    • There are metrics that suggest he’s not even going to be very good THIS year, and 31-year-old pitchers tend to get worse.

      He’s been outstanding so far through three starts, but keep in mind he’s only faced the Phillies and Mets. That’s one game against a bottom third offense and two against the worst offensive team in baseball. The average wRC+ he’s faced has been 80. McGowan’s average has been 103.

      He would obviously be a big upgrade at this point, but I think a lot of people are looking at three good starts for Santana and saying “I told you so!” when there’s a lot more to it than that.

      • What would the wRC+ of these teams be if you took out the starts against them by McGowan and Santana? Kind of necessary for your argument otherwise it’s pretty circular logic

        • Good point pastlives.

          Philbert I’m not saying I told you so (and I realize that you didn’t say *I* was ). I just wanted one healthy and proven pitcher. I won’t even pretend that I know who would have been best of the available talent. And when I say proven and healthy, I don’t mean an ace. Just someone who is a good bet to give you 150+ innings and not totally suck.

        • That seems way too complex for me to figure out right now. Either way, the Phillies and Mets have played three games against Santana and 39 games against other pitchers. It’s not like Santana has completely driven their stats into the ground. Those are both poor offensive teams.

        • About the same, though the difference narrows slightly. The confounding effect from including the pitcher’s starts in the opponents’ OPS+ is just a few percent at this stage.

    • Partially torn elbow ligament.

  16. Not Happ, definitely not Redmond. The option is Stroman if putting the best players on your team is the goal.

    I’m waiting for a trade or DFA of Rogers and Redmond to clear room for Stroman and Stilson.

  17. Before you lump me in with the “doomsayers” you claim to have had a “petty” victory over last night, I would point out that I expected and still expect the Jays to win about 85 games this year. I just don’t see how the Jays can continue the McGowan experiment and remain competitive in light of how few innings they’re getting throughout the rotation. It’s just not a great situation that Rogers has created with their unwillingness to open up the bank for another starting pitcher.

    It’s not doomsday or even a big deal, as the Jays are unlikely to be in the post-season this year anyway. I just don’t see a lot of positives from McGowan or the “stuff” that others seem to. The rush to get him into the starting rotation was desperate, ill-timed and, frankly, probably unfair to McGowan’s chances at success. It’s been 6 years since he’s thrown more than 75 innings at any level. He’s lost velocity. His command looks suspect. It just doesn’t seem like a recipe for success — though it did stop MSM types from talking about the Jays Santana debacle for a month or so ;)

    • I agree. McGowan did not force his way onto the rotation. Happ’s mediocrity and AA’s failure to get a starter to replace JJ forced the rotation onto him.

      Now that it has happened I am totally rooting for him. It’s a great story if it works out. And we sure have sunk time and cost and emotion into McGowan. But yeah this is a move that we just have to look to the skies and hope it works out.

    • He looked good in spring, and as easy as it is to call it panicked now, you wanted Todd Redmond to get those four starts? Because the roster is what it is, and with no free agent saviour coming, they had put someone in there. Also: not sure where you’ve been that you’re claiming you don’t see why people are dreaming on his stuff.

      • I know why people were dreaming on his stuff at one point, sure. But right now he’s down to 93mph with his four-seamer, the differential with his change-up has dropped from around 9mph to 5-6mph, and he can’t seem to locate his pitches. Don’t get me wrong — I’d love to see the guy do well, but I’m not overly optimistic about what I’ve seen thus far. It seems unfair to him that he didn’t get a chance to properly stretch out before being tossed into this role.

        I do agree there aren’t better options. When I indicated it was a panic move I actually meant on an organizational level — as in, Rogers unwillingness to supplement this line-up created a scenario where this was perhaps the inevitable option. I think that’s unfortunate. I would have loved to see McGowan stretched out in the bullpen in plays of Esmil Rogers; then he could have moved into the rotation if he was good enough or someone else faltered/was injured.

        It is what it is, I guess. No point in harping on it more than that. It’s just frustrating to see easily rectified line-up issues continue to be papered over due to ownership. C’est la vie.

        • He’s also 32

          We think of him as a young guy but he isn’t. Other than Stroman I don’t see a better option than McGowan. He beats Happ for sure.

          Morrow worries me more than McGowan does.

  18. Down two in the ninth, bases loaded, 1 out, Diaz ( batting .192 ), has a 1-0 count, and swings away into a game ending dp. Just bad baseball…he should of at least been taking the pitch, or trying to squeeze in the run, and turn the order over. Gibby is a cracker.

    • Dumb.

    • Wait Gibby was swinging?

      And if he hit the ball 4 feet to the left and it went through for a game tying single would it still have been dumb to swing at?

      • And if you have Diaz stand there and watch 3 strikes go by, and then Reyes go up and strikes out, that’s absolutely unacceptable. The Jays scored 8 runs, the loss isn’t on their offense. Ya they probably could have pushed out a dozen runs this game with a bit more luck, but that shouldn’t be necessary.

        Anyway, look on the brightside, they really haven’t played that great so far..without Melky and Bautista this team would be brutal right now. And yet, it’s April 24th and they’re in a playoff spot.

      • The point is he should not be swinging at the next pitch. If the counts runs to 1-1, try and squeeze the run in ( he’s batting .192! ), and at least you have the option of squeezing a run in, and turning over the order, and not getting doubled off. All of this does come form gibby, Like throwing out your closer in the 9th, down by 2. If we had tied the game, who was going to pitch the 10th?

    • Bases loaded squeeze attempt down 2 in the 9th. ? What could go wrong ?

      • Deeper in the count, he could push the run across and turn the order over, the point being, not being doubled off and end the game. Jays batters do not work the count, esp. in this circumstance, anything is better then what they did. With a 1-0 count, he should not be swinging.

  19. CORSI? As a person who’s well-versed in baseball analytics, you must kind of chuckle at how rudimentary the CORSI stat is though, right? Sure, it’s an improvement on shots and plus-minus but I’d say its MLB equivalent is fielding percentage – which isn’t good if that’s one of the top-tier metrics in your sport.

    • Oh totally. All those “advanced” stats in hockey are pretty hilariously basic, given the treatment they get — you’re absolutely right.

      • They still have shown a decent correlation with success relative to typically useless counting stats. It should also be “Corsi”, not “CORSI”, as it’s not an acroynm: it’s a guy’s name.

  20. The answer to the McGowan question is simple…. he shouldn’t even be in the damn rotation he needs to be in the bullpen where he belongs.

    If the Jays weren’t such cheap fucks during the winter they could have Santana right now and likely a couple more wins already.

    Folks this is what we get as Jays fans, Rogers, the Jays and Sportsnet trying to BS the real fans into believing someone like McGowan was ever a viable option as a starter.

    Go Jays!

  21. Should note: the HBP to Schoop that was not an HBP at all.

  22. He should be given more rope for sure, just because the MLB alternatives suck. If he says fatigue is a thing, it’s a thing, and not an entirely surprising one either. For me though, he hasn’t looked much better at the beginning of his outings compared to the end. His offspeed stuff has no bite to it, and has allowed hitters to just lay back and wale on his two seamer. Command has been an issue sure, but that would be mitigated a lot if he had a swing-and-miss pitch to keep the batter uncomfortable and off his fastball. Right now he’s pretty much Brandon Morrow without the whiffs.

    Maybe in his effort to dial things back to pace himself, he’s stopped snapping his slider like in the past. Whatever the reason, the lack of whiffs for a guy who by all accounts has tremendous stuff, is the most worrying aspect of all of this.

    Also, not to criticize stoets, but maybe a velocity chart would have been a nice add to an article that describes pitcher fatigue. Good post nonetheless.

    • Agree on this, McGowan does seem to leave the ball up an awful lot.

      My other concern is that McGowan was a desperation move, compounding the organization’s mistake of not going the extra mile to get Ervin Santana. And while he does have the highest ceiling of the MLB options (Redmond should be a long man, Happ was a strange acquisition at the time and hasn’t improved), the Jays soon won’t have time to build his arm up and gassing the bullpen every fifth day. If the plan was for him to be a starter, that should have been the plan since the beginning of spring training, which is where the majority of pitchers build their strength up.

      I love McGowan, and I hope he has more starts like his prior one in Baltimore, where he pitched into the 7th. But it’s a month into the season, how long can they wait on their golden boy? If they wait too long to move Happ (and it will be Happ) back into the rotation, they they have to stretch HIS arm back out, and we’re repeating this process from the other end.

      Given the pitching situation, and how many bullpen guys they have, why wouldn’t they try something creative like having Happ tag in with McGowan? If you’re going to have three potential long men (Redmond, Happ, Rogers?), may as well put them to good use.

  23. Hey everybody! The offence is back!

  24. The guy hasn’t been a consistent start in 5 years. Shouldn’t it be normal that he runs out of gas towards the end of his starts?

    Especially since he was rushed to get stretched out, his arm strength clearly isn’t there.. yet.

    I see no cause for concern at this point, especially when he states his arm feels fantastic for the first 60 pitches. He just needs to get built up.

    Also, completely unrelated.. How fucking awesome is Brett Cecil ? Outside of a mediocre month last year, the guy has been lights out.

    • IMHO its the role change plus weighted ball program plus change in repertoire. His velocity is up in the low to mid 90′s and his curve ball is ridiculous. Goggles is the goods right now.

  25. Lets call it how it is, why is everyone blaming Toddy Redmond ? is he the one that walked, singled and hit a batter in the 5th inning .. NO it was Dusty ‘the cash cow / thief ‘ Mccgowan not earning his 1.5 million dollar salary as usual .

    Joke of a post , i thought the post would have had the caption of : ” Good Riddons Rusty aka Dusty” or ” There’s the Door to SingleA ball ” or ” How to make an easy income in baseball ….. Dusty 101 ”

    Call a spade a spade Dusty stinks stop blaming Toddy Remond.

  26. Everyone on the post last night should be ashamed of themselves.
    Defending Dusty and blaming Happ and Toddy
    Why is everyone willing to give a free pass to Dusty when he is the one that shit the bed? makes no sense.

    2015 Jays starting pitching :

    1) Dusty
    2) romero
    3) morrow
    4) drabek
    5) Happ

    the dream lives on with this bag of trash.

  27. Hopefully contructive suggestion …

    Now that Getting Blanked is no more, could you add Drew and Jack Moore to the collection of ‘DJF Friends and Useful resources’, so I can quickly jump to their stuff?

    I know I could just bookmark, but that’s not how I roll. I’ve got a bazillion bookmarks, I don’t need more.

    Also clicking “TheScore” then “MLB” then “MLB News” then skip past the stuff I’m not interested which I can read elsewhere to get to the comment I’m looking for … not entirely in love with that. But whatever, guess I’m in a minority.

    Last time I checked the Score App, you couldn’t get DJF or Getting Blanked stuff on it. Is that still the case? In which case wtf? Also, I can’t point out grammatical errors in comments any more? You’re saying my comments weren’t a constructive and essential part of the Score ecosystem? [sarcasm]

    Ok – was trying not to be grumpy, and I guess I failed. You’re ruining my daily procrastination routine, and it seems a bit like when they replaced ‘Miked Up’ with ‘the blog nobody can find any more’ for the sake of corporate branding.

    • I’ll wait until everything has been completed.
      But I do find it a bit puzzling.
      DJF is the last blog standing.
      It doesn’t have the tabs linking directly to various parts of The Score.
      Nor does the Main Score page link to DJF.
      Sorta like an island,a separate entity.
      Stoeten does have a spot on the Score’s author page.
      No comment sections for the author’s articles.( surprised about that.)
      While admittedly my computer is old it won’t load any of he new Score in IE,I use Chrome to access the Score.
      Time for me to upgrade and finally get that new fangled smart phone.
      Adapt or die,I guess.

  28. If McGowan wasn’t the hero of a very inspiring baseball story, would we be assessing him in the same way? His starts have not been stellar. His first start he apparently tipped his pitches. He does have great stuff, and we saw some of that last night, but not nearly enough of it. I don’t think we have anything better right now and I doubt Happ is the answer. But here’s where AA’s inability to find another sp in the off-season is hurting us. At the time I thought what we had was no worse than what we could get but now I believe I was wrong about that and we should have pulled out the stops to get Santana.

    My concern is that we have a couple of starters with amazing stuff and great fragility: McGowan and Morrow. It seems to me that in general our losses have been coughed-up by the pitchers. And we have nowhere to go with that. It’s not like Drabek has made himself an ace-in-waiting. Romero has been out to lunch for two seasons now. Stroman et al need a lot more seasoning before they hit mlb. We have a problem but no solution. Everything else seems to be working. The offence has finally gotten going. The defence is stellar. But it’s pitching that wins games and I don’t think we have enough of it right now.

    • I agree with the “talented but fragile” moniker for Morrow / McGowan. When you have these types of guys, when they are on (talent part), they’re amazing. Unfortunately, the fragility part means you need depth in starting pitchers. Unfortunately for the Jays, their 6,7 and 8 starters as currently seen by me are Happ, Rogers and Redmond. Rogers and Redmond are out of options, Happ can refuse his option due to service time. Unless they pick up an established starter from outside the organization, they can’t get rid of their depth. If Stroman or Sanchez comes up and shits the bed, you still need the depth to cover.

      Redmond is readily available talent and should be the first to go if space is required.

  29. Meh. Who hasn’t had troubles keeping their balls up. I’ll show myself out…

  30. What’s the question

  31. So last night on jays talk wilner kept referring to the fact the jays are 1 game out of first

    If in turn the jays were in last place and a caller made a point of that .. Wilner would laugh them off the show saying its ridiculous to bring up standings this early

  32. Bottom line is mcgowan is a shell of his former self. Injuries have derailed this guys career despite his valiant effort to comeback. Jays need to upgrade that spot. Is stroman ready?

    • In 20 innings he has 26 walks and only 6 BB’s although his is giving up 9.6 hits/ 9.

      i feel like in a perfect world we wouldnt need to see stroman up here until september, but I’d expect to see him in another month if he continues like this.

    • 60 pitches is not going to cut it. He might be behind the other starters, but he has 4 starts now and we’re nearly a month into the season. If Gibby is going to continue to keep Hutch and Morrow on strict pitch limits already, having one guy only doing 60 is killing the BP.

    • AFDG with the nonsense, as usual.

  33. Couldn’t a little credit be given to Baltimore for being a really good offensive club.

    • Ya things just happen sometimes, it’s April 24th and already 7 teams have scored 8 or more runs in a game and LOST. There’s a bunch more if you lower it to 7 runs a game and lost.

    • I agree with that.

      Imagine what they’ll be like when Davis starts hitting and Machado is back.

      And the rumors they’ve had serious talks with Morales.

      • Honestly though, except for catcher, I’d probably take the Jays’ player at every other position

        • ???

          Adam Jones? Davis? Hardy? Machado, whatever plug they have at 2B..

          Orioles and Jays are pretty comparable, they both have some great bats and some suspect pitching

          • I took both the Jays and the O’s at 33 to1 based on the offensive potential.

            The way I see it, the pitching just has to be league average to have a good chance to make to the lottery which is he MLB playoffs.

          • I would take Reyes over Hardy. I would take Encarnacion over Davis easy. I guess Machado is a better pick than Lawrie but it’s easy to say that when Lawrie’s off to a bad start. We’ll see by the end of the year.

            And ya I’d take Rasmus over Jones.

            • lol so when you say take him over another player you are clearly letting your bias shine through.

              Lets review shall we?

              2013 WAR

              Reyes 2.2 Hardy 3.4
              Machado 6.2 Lawrie 1.3
              Davis 6.8 EE 4.1
              Jones 4.2 Rasmus 4.8

              I guess i forgot how good rasmus was last year, but Jones is still a lot more of a consistent player. The only one I’d maybe agree with is Reyes over Hardy, if Reyes is healthy, which is always the big if..

              but to not to Machado and Davis over Lawrie and EE is ridiculous, its not even close.

              • That was the first excellent season by Davis and even in that one he struck out like 3x more than Encarnacion. I would definitely still take EE. I don’t think Davis is nearly as good a hitter as last year showed.

                Ya I’d take Machado, I’ll give you that one. Overall though, I’d take the Jays lineup over the Orioles, easily.

              • Let’s see Davis string up more than one year like that. It could have been a fluke. EE at least has 2 40+ HR years on his rez.

      • Luckily, I think the Jays are in the same boat as far as not getting the most out of their players.

        If you had told me at the start of the season that Rasmus, Lawrie and Encarnacion would all be off to awful starts, Reyes would only play five of the first 21 games and Lind would be on the DL after a dozen games, I never would have predicted a record of 11-10 to start the season.

  34. 2-0, 0.86 ERA, 0.81 WHIP in 21 innings.

    Sure, the sample size is from two games vs. the Mets and one vs. Philly, but for $14 million I would so much rather have seen him every five days than Dustin McGowan.

  35. Watching the Rays and Twin right now.

    So Erik Bedard goes only 4 IP, 4ER 5BB for Tampa.

    Oh yeah, the Twins are beating the shit out of the Tampa bullpen currently with a 4 run 5th.

    Remind anyone living in a Blue Jays vacuum of some recent bitching?

    • 5 Runs to Minny by TB pen. Just say’n

    • A lot of people love to fawn over the rest of the AL East and how the Jays aren’t good enough as currently constructed, but here’s a list of AL East starters who were as bad as or worse than McGowan in their last outings:

      Red Sox: Buchholz, Lester, Peavy
      Orioles: Tillman
      Rays: Odorizzi, now Bedard
      Yankees: Nova

      The Jays aren’t the only team with pitchers who have had rough starts. It’s going to happen once in a while. They can afford to give their fifth starter a couple extra outings to see if he can settle in and figure things out.

  36. From Baseball America draft chat yesterday:

    Andrew VU ’04 (Baton Rouge, LA): With his recent spate of bad starts, how far has Tyler Beede’s draft stock fallen? Or are MLB evaluators focusing largely on his arm talent and viewing this as a blip on the radar?
    John Manuel: We do hear Beede was probably a shade high at No. 6 in our Midseason Update. He seems to be in a bad groove right now; when he throws strikes, he gets hit, or he has one of those 5-walk outings. His command lags behind his control. The pitch that has really caught scouts’ attention is the improvement in his changeup, but it feels like he’s more of a 6-10 pick overall rather than a threat to go in the first five selections. I don’t believe he’ll fall into the second half, barring injury, just because there is so much to work with there.

  37. Stoeten, I see you’ve been basically saying not yet on Stroman.
    When do you think we get to see him? I’m all for giving Dusty some more rope, you can see the talent is in there. But he’s obviously very inconsistent, why not let the kid have a shot sometime next month if Dusty stays rusty?

    • I’m definitely for that. I’d be surprised if they passed Happ over for the spot, to be honest. But that’s just a feeling I get, and not based on anything. I could see them giving him a very, very short leash first.

      • Wouldn’t be the worst thing to have McGowan as your long reliever. When Jannsen is back, that’s an insane bullpen…

        Not sure what you do with Rogers and Redmond though…with the Jays luck, someone’s arm would fall off soon as you DFA one of those guys

        • That definitely feels like an option here. Move Dusty to long relief for now to see if he can build more stamina. 60 is just not acceptable. It essentially limits one of Redmond/Happ to not pitch either the day before or after him. Meaning they might pitch two games out of every five at best. They could be limited to that one, if they end up coming in and pitch four innings.

      • Do you think they believe in Happ or is this some sort of “respect” thing for a vet, a’la Buck getting all those at bats going into FA a few years ago?

        Either way, I’d love to see Stro because as hard as I try to, I can’t find any internal confidence that J Happ can pitch well enough to keep us in games.

        • What I gathered from the John Buck thing was that AA promised him regular time in exchange for a below-market bridge-year deal.

    • June or something is the Super Two cutoff. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stroman then if he’s still performing in AAA.

  38. Here is a report on the guy Baseball America has projected as the 9th best draft prospect (where the Jays’ first pick falls). Dream a little dream:

    http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/game-report-evansvilles-kyle-freeland/

    • Nice article, Kid loops good.

      While on that site take a peek at what Pompey and Dwight Smith jr are doing in High A.
      Kids are going off.
      Corner guys in low A are playing well too.

    • Looking forward to having #9 and #11. This guy looks good to be the type that could be in the bigs by maybe mid 2016.

  39. What’s the deal with the Score home page blocking my browsers ability to page back?

    Click on “theScore” on the top left, now try and back click to DFF, it won’t let you.

    Can someone confirm this? Is it my browser, or this some MacKeeper type shit?

    • Not just you. I had to spam the back button like a motherfucker to get it to go back. Usually with those pages I just need to double click it quickly. Not so.

  40. andrew, how do i get to djf from the score’s main page? this new layout tucks you away somewhere i can’t find

  41. He’s a hell of a lot better than that piece of turd name Morrow

  42. I needed to thank you for this excellent read!! I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it.
    I have got you saved as a favorite to look at new things you post…

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