Archive for the ‘Dustin McGowan’ Category

The McGowan Question


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.

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Creating an excuse to give this post the most painfully obvious title ever, J.A. Happ was yet again a disaster today, failing to get a single out in the fourth inning, exiting the game having given up seven earned runs on twelve hits (no walks, though!). If he’s hurt and not telling anyone, mused the excellently Ashby-ish Joe Siddall on the radio broadcast, he’s not doing himself any favours.

It started off fairly well for Happ, too. Somewhat shaky and bailed out a bit by Erik Kratz erasing a Starling Marte single by throwing him out attempting to steal second (which, apparently, Blue Jays catchers are going to be allowed to do this year), but decently enough to create genuine worry that he may have been on his way to doing just enough to justify the Jays keeping him in the rotation. It all came undone in a four-run second inning, though, with singles and hard hit outs following throughout his final inning-plus of work. In all, Happ raised his spring ERA a mere fucking .32 of a run (per @Shifty169), up to a cock-mangling 20.57.

Good fucking lord of grief fucking.

And yet — get this! — according to a tweet from Barry Davis, Happ “says that he was told at the start of camp he was in the rotation, and no one has told him otherwise since.” Happ, he adds, “assumes he’s still in.”

He can’t possibly, though. Yet it’s not like he’s going to say too much negative otherwise, so even though I’m not sure what he has to gain by saying it, I have a hard time killing him for all that. But he does have a knack for not making it terribly difficult to figure out what he’s thinking by reading between the lines — something he showed to be adept at doing last year as he sat in limbo waiting for the club to realize that starting Ricky Romero wasn’t remotely tenable — telling Davis, according to a second tweet, “I’m not going to comment,” when asked if he finds it disturbing that no one has told him that he may not make the rotation.

He can’t possibly, though. Make the rotation, that is. And the thing about last year’s whole untenable proposition about Romero — who, at least when in big league games last spring, and not being shielded from those salivating to call him finished, put up a 6.23 ERA over 13 innings, giving up 17 hits and ten walks (compared to Happ’s 21 and nine over seven this year) — is that the Jays eventually decided that they had no choice but to throw Romero to the wolves anyway.

If you ask me, if they can stomach that desperate, doomed-to-fail experiment, I just don’t see how they can’t be willing to do the same with Dustin McGowan, who at least has a legitimate sparkle of upside in that fragile arm of his, and several reasons to see how the setup may actually work.

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Toronto Blue Jays Photo Day

McGowan in slightly less injury-plagued times. (Spring 2005)

This afternoon news hit the internet that Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan has already been shut down due to soreness in his shredded and frequently operated-on throwing shoulder, and blogger Andrew Stoeten decided that the wholly unsurprising news wasn’t really worth making a whole post about.

“Doesn’t this happen every year?” Stoeten likely asked himself at the time. “I mean, I get that it’s somewhat newsworthy because the Jays ridiculously signed him to that extension last season, and because everybody feels for the guy and have probably started wondering whether this might be the end of the road. But was he, what, ninth on the starting pitching depth chart? Like, at best. Yeah, it’s shitty, but what the hell would I even write?”

As evening turned to night, however, the blogger– perhaps procrastinating before going to meet his sister to move a couch– appears to have lost his nerve on the McGowan-injuries-aren’t-news issue, as a piece, barely qualifying as more than a footnote, was written and published about McGowan some time in the minutes after seven o’clock– a far cry from the gnashing of teeth that has met previous injuries to the one-time first round pick (of Gord effing Ash) and organizational top prospect.

You can read the post at Drunk Jays Fans.

In addition to the news about Drew Hutchison this morning, the Blue Jays have also announced that Dustin McGowan will– wait for it…– have surgery tomorrow. On his throwing shoulder. By Dr. James Andrews.

Now, keep in mind, it’s not as bad as it maybe sounds…

The first of a flurry of tweets on the news that I saw came from Brendan Kennedy of the Star, while Mike Wilner added shortly thereafter that it’s arthroscopic surgery, and Chris Toman of followed by noting that the surgery will be done simply to further evaluate McGowan’s shoulder joint.

So… no major repairs are happening– we’re told– just an evaluation. But given the player, his injury history, and the contract the club somehow felt it was in their interest to sign him to this spring, it’s certainly not the news anyone wanted to hear. (Well, maybe Parkes.)


Image via Al Messerschmidt/Getty.

Toronto Blue Jays fans are sensitive when it comes to Dustin McGowan, and it’s understandable why. He’s held his course down a very tough road, and for the most part it’s been behind the scenes. In fact, over the last four seasons, McGowan has made a grand total of four appearances in front of the hometown crowd. This, after winning us over with glimpses of brilliance in his previous two seasons as a starter.

Viewing his appearances objectively or questioning the contract extension that was handed to him have become akin to kicking the crutch out from under Tiny Tim.

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Gregor Chisholm lays the following tweet on us:

Not exactly surprising news, but actually… potentially great news.

No, not because of any sort of newfound ill will towards McGowan and his contract, or his guaranteed rotation spot when healthy, but because it potentially extends the battle for the Jays’ last spot between Brett Cecil and Kyle Drabek.

I don’t think Drabek looked quite as good yesterday against the Yankees as some of the reports on him suggested– getting bailed out of one inning on a great throw to the plate from Colby Rasmus, and having Andruw Jones hit him hard, but foul, in the fourth, after a hard A-Rod double and a walk to Ibanez– but he looked plenty OK. And while I’m well aware that velocity isn’t everything, and that I’m basing this view on scant looks and whatever information has come out of camp, I’d bet on Drabek having better success right now in the big leagues than Brett Cecil.

I don’t know that the Jays will be willing to make the switch by the time McGowan gets back, but anything Drabek can do to show that he’s progressing beyond last year’s disasterfuck is probably a good thing, in terms of letting the club feel confident in pulling the plug on Cecil once he starts repeatedly getting his ass handed to him.

Speaking of, Cecil pitches today, but it’s in a minor league game, in order to hide him from the OriLOLes [note: really?], who he’s scheduled to face early in the season. Ryan Tepera, who is apparently a real thing, gets the start for the Jays Major Leaguers, with eight of the club’s nine Opening Day hitters in the lineup against Baltimore’s Dana Eveland.

At Miked Up, Mike Wilner has very kindly posted the audio of the presser to announce the extending of Dustin McGowan, so apparently we still have more of this to take care of before I can move on with my damn life. The highlights:

- Anthopoulos says that, while he’s not opposed to getting a contract done in the middle of a season, he’d done it with Ricky Romero, “and it was just an incredible time sink.” So, that’s one reason that they decided to just go for it now, and not create a distraction for the player.

- He later adds that if it had happened during the season, he would have done this as well.

- He acknowledges that they’ve definitely taken a risk, because of McGowan’s history of shoulder problems, but he praised McGowan and his work ethic as being a reason he felt more comfortable with the deal. He knows, he said, that McGowan isn’t going to fail to put in the work necessary to be as good a player as he can be– something that we’ve obviously seen over the course of his three years in the rehab wilderness.

- “Even when Mac came up last year,” Anthopoulos said, “even though the numbers weren’t great, from a scouting standpoint I loved what I saw. I loved the delivery, you love the stuff. But at the same time we’re not blind to the fact that, yeah, there’s a tonne of risk here.”

- “In this division, with what we’re up against and what we have to do, we have to take a little bit more risk– or maybe a lot more risk– than the other teams, and maybe that’s part of it.”

- As he said when he signed Jose Bautista, “I’ll take the risk on the right human being. If you bet on the human being, you’ll be fine.”

- Anthopoulos praised the work of the club’s medical staff, saying that when they say “stick with this guy, stick with this guy,” it’s hard to ignore. “We were going to see this thing through, start to finish,” Anthopoulos says, “good or bad.” Clearly he didn’t want to get Lowen’d.

- On the subject of the two year deal, Anthopoulos said that this was at the request of the club, and it was mostly due to the fact that the club understands they have to build him up slowly, which this gives them the time to do.