After watching the interview with Dustin McGowan before the Jays game, I began to wonder how he would fare in September this year and how much that would play into 2012.
I remember a couple years back, everyone was in love with McGowan. I understood the potential and I understood the blazing fastball, but to me, I just never saw it translate onto the field.
I had countless arguments with my keeper league GMs about who was better: Shaun Marcum or McGowan. I think I was outnumbered 3-9 as I said that Marcum was the better pitcher. Anyway, today, Marcum dominates.
The question I raise is in regards to what made McGowan such a stud before his injury. If you look at his numbers, they weren’t—by any means —impressive.
I understand that he was labelled the #1 prospect in the Blue Jays farm system in 2005. I am by no means saying that he didn't have the ability to become a front of the rotation starter, yet I want to just make it clear that he never actually achieved true statistical success in the majors, just average statistics.
His best statistical year was 2007, where he went 12-10, with 4.08 E.R.A and a 1.22 WHIP. For a 25-year-old you cannot really complain with those numbers, but at the same time they aren’t mind-blasting.
A 2011 statistical comparison to McGowan's best year would be 23-year-old Mike Leake (11-9, 4.00 E.R.A, 1.18 WHIP) of the Reds. Leake is an average pitcher, yet his stats mimic those of McGowan’s best season. Odd?
The following season, McGowan regressed, posting a 4.37 E.R.A and a 1.37 WHIP with decreased strikeout numbers (2011 comparisons: Jeremy Guthrie and Jonathon Niese).
I understand that his arsenal and velocity were great, but could he turn into the next Max Scherzer? It was very unfortunate what happened to McGowan and give him all the credit in the world for working his way back to the Jays. But must we temper our expectations?
McGowan pitched last night in relief of Luis Perez, who couldn’t hold the BoSox bats. McGowan didn’t fare much better, giving up three runs in four innings. Granted, he had five strikeouts, which was a great sign, but he also had three walks.
Don't get me wrong, I think McGowan is a great individual who is easy to like. Those mutton chops are always exciting to watch! I wish him nothing but the best in his return to the bigs.
But the questions remain: What do we expect from McGowan in September, and what should he work on?
Simple answer: As long as his ERA remains under 4.50, he maintains a decent strikeout rate and is pain-free, then I believe that his September will be deemed a success by McGowan and the organization alike.
I think the best way to truly answer this question is to understand what he is trying to achieve during this September call-up. This is a great opportunity where he can work against major league hitters without the outcome being of the utmost importance.
He needs to work on his command, get some innings of work and regain some confidence. If he achieves this and shows no signs of pain, then I think regardless of the statistics, it will be a win for the Blue Jays and McGowan.