For the much-maligned McGowan, this is a major blow to yet another comeback attempt. In fact, this could be the death knell for what was once a very promising career.
Drafted in the first round back in 2000, McGowan was a flamethrowing Georgia high school sensation with control issues. For his first few years in the minors, little changed.
However, the slow-developing prospect eventually turned the corner in 2007 after lighting up AAA with an 11.6 K/9 and then getting called up to replace an injured Gustavo Chacin.
McGowan took this opportunity and ran with it. He finished the year 12-10 with a 4.08 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, including two complete games and a no-hitter that he took into the ninth inning against Colorado.
However, halfway through a slightly disappointing follow-up campaign, McGowan was lost for the season with a torn labrum in his shoulder. Following a torn ACL in 2009 and then a torn rotator cuff not long after, a July 8th, 2008 no-decision against the visiting Baltimore Orioles would mark the last time Jays fan have seen him pitch in a major-league game.
UPDATE: Further reports have just been released by MLB.com that the Blue Jays have placed Dustin McGowan on the 60-day DL as part of his rehab, not because of a setback or any further injury. The club has made the decision to transition McGowan to a reliever full-time, as it's believed this will reduce stress on his repaired labrum.
"The thing that you run into there is, what is the fatigue level, once you get to 80 pitches and above?" [John] Farrell said. "Is that where more damage takes place? Because if that's the feeling—[and] that's the feeling of the medical staff—now, you're looking at a five-inning starting pitcher.
"That's why we have to bring him back in a role that doesn't have limitations, that doesn't affect everybody else on the staff."
Although this cloud apparently has a silver lining, we still may not see McGowan pitch for Toronto in 2011, if at all. There is still a long road ahead for this once future staff ace.
Nonetheless, Coach Farrell is cautiously optimistic:
"The most important thing for Dustin is that he's had no setbacks," Farrell said. "[There's been] no need for added rest on the program he has been on. It still has a chance to be a very good ending to a tough road that he has travelled, but [it takes] a quality person to answer those challenges.
"He has some hurdles yet to come, but if somebody is going to do it, it's someone with his resolve and intensity that will get there."
Good luck, kid. Blue Jay Nation is behind you.
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