Dustin McGowan Is Bullpen Bound

You might want to have a seat for this shocking development.  As it seems to be popular these days, I’ll even give you a second to brace yourself.

There.

Are you ready?

The Toronto Blue Jays have decided that the often injured Dustin McGowan, who today threw to live batters for the first time since last Spring, is best suited to a role in the bullpen.  Personally, I’m a little surprised that the team would attempt to steal the spotlight away from the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament by making such a major announcement on the same day as Selection Sunday, but I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

At least McGowan’s new role on the team fills a major area of need for the Blue Jays who only have Frank Francisco, Jason Frasor, Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, Shawn Camp, Casey Janssen, Carlos Villanueva, Josh Roenicke and Scott Richmond as right handed relievers competing for spots in the bullpen this Spring.

All kidding aside, McGowan, with no options remaining, is most likely to begin the season on the Disabled List, rather than head North with the team after Spring Training.

The Blue Jays gave McGowan one more kick at the can after signing the horribly unlucky pitcher to a one year contract worth $450,000 this offseason.

The injuries began in 2004, when the top prospect blew out his elbow and required Tommy John Surgery after only his sixth start of the season in Double A.  Then, while rehabbing, the right hander discovered that he was suffering from Type 1 Diabetes.

Undeterred, he pushed on with his recovery and then spent parts of 2005 and 2006 in Toronto where he ultimately failed to impress.  He started 2007 at Triple A Syracuse, but was called up in early May when the Blue Jays learned that the back end of a rotation consisting of Tomo Ohka, John Thomson and Victor Zambrano wasn’t meant for success in the AL East.

He grabbed hold of the opportunity and won a regular place in the rotation, highlighted by a no-hit bid that went into the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies.  Unfortunately, McGowan suffered from shoulder pain throughout the next season and spent some time on the Disabled List until it was decided in July that he would undergo season-ending surgery to repair a frayed labrum in his shoulder.

His recovery from the surgery was slower than expected and McGowan didn’t begin throwing a baseball again until May of 2009. Then, in early July, it was discovered that McGowan would require knee surgery to repair articular cartilage damage. A month and a half later, McGowan resumed his rehab in hopes of being available for 2010.

After making an appearance in a Minor League Spring Training game in which he was a shell of his former self, McGowan gave up on trying to make the Opening Day roster.  Instead, he continued his rehab in Florida while the rest of the team headed North.  Then, in June, he once again experienced pain in his shoulder.  It was later discovered that he had torn his rotator cuff and would require season-ending surgery.

It’s been a tough road for McGowan to even make it this far, but with the Blue Jays current depth of right handed relievers and his lack of Minor League options, it’s difficult to imagine him catching on with his former team.  No matter where he ends up though, there will always be an army of Blue Jays fans hoping for his success.

Comments (9)

  1. I was at that game against the Rockies. What’s happened to Dustin is really awful. I respect his work ethic and his drive to keep going despite all this. A lot of guys would have quit a long time ago.

  2. If he’s going to be relegated to the bullpen, I’d love to see them try a system where they coax 80-120 innings out of him per season, as opposed to the one inning and out deal. It seems very inefficient that teams decide you either throw 60 innings for us, or 220. There has to be a plethora of guys who would function comfortably in between.

  3. Of course the above assumes in a healthy DMac. Fingers crossed.

  4. But where do you put somebody to throw that number of innings? With specialized roles, it doesn’t seem possible. Unless there were a bunch of these 120 inning guys and that elmiinates some people from the pen. But then you end up with overworking them, and needing to carry an equal number of them. So what’s the upside?

    As far as McGowan goes, he went on the DL officially yesterday. I actually wouldn’t be surprised to see him re-surface as a Blue Jay out of the pen. People always falter, and everyone is on a one year contract. If he takes to this role, he could be a long term relief option.

  5. With a role in the bullpen would his arm strength not be as a strong if he was a starting pitcher?

  6. He’d be a great/cheap backend of the bullpen option if and when he’s healthy… then we can trade the plethora of $2-3million right handed relief arms for anything.
    Good luck to him in his comeback bid, and let’s hope those sideburns make a return too.

  7. I wish him the best. I remember being so excited to see him in his first spring training, before they had to shut him down.

    Dustin, what about an eight-man bullpen? With Pods likely headed to the DL, I could see it as something they might try just to begin the year. It`s increasingly evident we are going to have two lefties, and I fail to see them not keeping Villanueva in there.

  8. If Dustin still has some of his velocity and break to his pitches then I think it would be a big mistake to give up on him, no matter who he replaces in the bullpen.

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