Archive for the ‘Dustin McGowan’ Category

Far be it from me to actually give too much of a shit about the ins and outs of every spring training game– especially those with three weeks still to go until Opening Day– but with both Dustin McGowan and Kyle Drabek pitching today, at the very least their performances warrant some scrutiny. Y’know, as much as anybody’s performance does at this point in the spring. Or in a game against the damn hopeless Astros.

ESPN’s Keith Law was at the game and tweeted out some stray observations, including an assertion that McGowan, who pitched first, looked “very ordinary so far.”

That, however, was early on, and by the end of the outing, McGowan had come around.

The Fan’s Mike Wilner echoed the sentiment that McGowan improved as his day went on. “He looked very good after the first inning,” he tweeted, “not so great in the first.” On the day McGowan went three innings, giving up one hit, an unearned run, walking one and striking out three, which on the whole is pretty successful. However, he threw 46 pitches, 27 for strikes, according to Wilner. That rate is close to the percentage of strikes he threw in his 21 innings in the Majors last year, which I think we can agree simply isn’t going to cut it– however, we’re talking about such small sample sizes here that just an extra strike or two one way or the other changes the way the rate looks pretty significantly. Still, it’s hardly doom and gloom, and any day that McGowan finishes where he’s still healthy remains, at this point, a pretty damn good day.

Not only that, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star points out that McGowan threw a bullpen session between today’s start and his previous one, the first time he’s been able to do so since since 2008.

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The Jays won’t play a televised game until St. Patrick’s Day (and then it’s only available on MLB.TV, with Sportsnet’s first broadcast not coming until the next day, according to the club’s online broadcast schedule), so those of us not dicking around in buttfuck Florida only have the audio and the assorted reports of the poor souls who are to go on. But by the sounds of things, Dustin McGowan’s first start of the spring went very well.

Granted, it was against the Houston Astros, but when you think about it, any start in which his shoulder doesn’t explode apart into a billion third base coach-maiming projectiles is probably a good thing.

And McGowan did us one better, topping at 96 on the stadium radar gun, according to Jeff Blair and Ken Fidlin, and sitting consistently at 93, according to Gregor Chisholm, who tells me the gun considered to be more accurate than last year,

Perhaps more importantly, he threw 15 of his 24 pitches for strikes– a 62.5% rate, in an absurdly small sample, but still, better than the 57% he threw in the Majors in 2012. This information is relayed by Chisholm, and Mike Wilner of the Fan 590, who writes that “McGowan looked terrific.  He hit his spots, his fastball had good life and his slider had great bite.”

The almost-30-year-old gave up just one hit in his two innings of work, and according to Wilner, “said he felt normal, which is something he hadn’t felt the last four springs.” On the broadcast, Wilner– who, it should be noted, seem to me about as optimistic on McGowan over the winter as anyone– added that he looked like pretty much the same guy we remember.

One hopes.

It’s way early, of course, so hopes are all we’ve really got. But it sure is nice hurt to have these ones– especially with rumblings of potential concern for Brett Cecil (see previous post).

The story of Dustin McGowan is a rather amazing, harrowing (in outside-the-real-world millionaires-playing-sports terms), and at the moment, an uplifting one. And it’s one that I don’t want to be the guy constantly throwing cold water on. But at the same time, it’s a ridiculously cautious optimism I have– if you can even call it optimism– for the possibility that McGowan will show up as a 29-year-old and pick up anywhere close to where he left off in 2007.

That said, the early– very early– reports on him are glowing.

“In the early days of spring training, John Farrell has been careful not to praise his pitchers after a short mound session against batters who behave like statues,” writes John Lott in the National Post. “But on Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays manager could not hold his reserve. It was a hot day and maybe the sunshine was getting to him. But Farrell had also just watched Dustin McGowan throw 25 pitches to five teammates, some of whom muttered about the filth the big right-hander was serving up.”

“The right-hander, catching people’s eye with his command and stuff, dazzled teammates Adam Lind, Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar with his slider and changeup, each of them taking turns walking out of the cage shaking his head,” writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

“The fact that he was down in the strike zone, with the kind of power he had, with the heaviness to his fastball, the action to his secondary stuff – he was impressive today, there’s no doubt,” John Farrell said, as quoted by both pieces.

Of course, Farrell said earlier in the winter that he doesn’t anticipate seeing McGowan going beyond 140 or 150 innings this season– itself a wildly optimistic suggestion, I think. They’ve started out being cautious, with McGowan working every three days right now, instead of every other day, as the rest of his fellow pitchers are. But the Jays, if we can take any impressions they’re giving us seriously (which we probably can’t), seem to think that having a proper off-season for once– as opposed to what Lott calls last year’s “ambitious rehab program that saw him throwing in earnest for almost 11 consecutive months– is going to help.

“He’s having a very good camp. It’s just great to see that after a normal off-season that he’s come back in and probably felt better about himself physically, and I think it’s showing up in the way he’s throwing the baseball,” Farrell said.

“It felt like me,” McGowan added. It’s easy to get carried away at this stage but, shit, let’s hope it keeps up.