Dustin McGowan

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Dustin Michael McGowan

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Kid, you've got something special. You're not an average starter. You're a way above-average starter and you're stuff is electric." - Frank Thomas, explaining what he's been saying to McGowan since spring training

Dustin McGowan was recognized as the team MVP in both baseball and basketball at Long County High School in Ludowici, GA. He was also All-Region in basketball and All-State in baseball. He also played Little League baseball as a youth. McGowan was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1st round (33rd pick) of the 2000 amateur draft. He was signed by scouts Chris Buckley and Joe Siers on June 20, 2000 and made his pro debut that summer.

In the minors in 2000 with the Medicine Hat Blue Jays, he was in eight games and went 0-3 with an ERA of 6.48. In 2001, he played A-ball with Auburn and was in 15 games with a 3.76 ERA and WHIP of 1.58. 2002 saw him in Charleston-WV (again playing A-ball, now at the full-season level), going 28 games with a 4.19 ERA and WHIP of 1.36.

He moved to the Dunedin Blue Jays in 2003 for 14 games with WHIP of 1.15 and a 2.85 ERA. He also played for the New Haven Ravens that year (AA-ball), again in 14 games with a 1.27 WHIP and a 3.17 ERA.

McGowan spent 2004 exclusively for the AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats, with only limited playing time. He was in 6 games, with an ERA of 4.06 with a WHIP of 1.26.

In 2005 he bounced around between Dunedin and New Hampshire, making his Major League debut on July 30, 2005 with Toronto. In 13 games with the parent club, his WHIP was 1.46 with 6.35 for the ERA. For 2006, McGowan played in 23 games for Syracuse at AAA, then went to Toronto for 16 games with a terrible 7.24 ERA. 2007 was much better, with a 1.64 ERA in Syracuse over 5 games, and 4.08 ERA in Toronto in 27 games.

McGowan stayed north of the border for 2008, playing 19 games for Toronto with a 4.37 ERA, but his season was cut short by a shoulder injury. He did not play in 2009, as he was recovering from debridement surgery on his right shoulder, the intervention having been performed on July 31 of the previous year. Notably, McGowan threw a one-hitter for the Blue Jays on June 24, 2007.

McGowan finally returned to the mound in 2011, having missed two full seasons of action. He first made 7 starts for Dunedin, going 0-2, 2.87, then 5 more with New Hampshire, where he was also 0-2, with a 2.75 ERA. Working on strict pitch counts, he had pitched only 35 1/3 innings between the two stops, but had shown enough to convince the Jays to give a shot back in the majors as the season was winding down. He pitched four innings in relief against the Boston Red Sox on September 6th, giving up 3 runs in a game the Jays lost, 14-0, then made his first major league start since July 8, 2008 on September 11th against the Baltimore Orioles. He gave up 4 runs in 3 innings, but did not figure in the decision as the Jays rallied for a 6-5 win. For the year, he was 0-2, 6.43, in 5 appearances, pitching 21 innings.

However, McGowan soon recorded another set-back, undergoing shoulder surgery again in 2012 and not pitching at all that season. But he kept at it, returning to the mound in 2013 by making a couple of scoreless relief appearances with Class A Dunedin and then pitching 8 more times with the AAA Buffalo Bisons. In spite of giving up 7 runs on 6 walks and 10 hits in 9 innings, he was called up to Toronto on June 8th, replacing Evan Crawford; he did in fact strike out 16 batters in 11 minor league innings, which was the number of most interest to the pitching-hungry Jays. He made his first appearance of the year on the day of his call-up, pitching a third of an inning in the 10th inning of a contest that lasted 18. He gave up a walk and hit a batter, but also struck out an opponent. He ended up pitching 25 times in relief for Toronto, putting up a solid 2.45 ERA and striking out over a batter per inning. Manager Jay Gibbons was careful about his usage, given his recent injury history.

McGowan won the Jays' fifth starter job in spring training in 2014 and as a result had the honor of being the starter for the home opener at the Rogers Centre against the New York Yankees on April 4th. In his first start since the 2011 season, he gave up 4 runs on 8 hits in 2 2/3 innings and was clearly outpitched by his opponent, Masahiro Tanaka, who was making his debut in Major League Baseball as the Yankees prevailed, 7-3. He was not able to keep his starting job, because of poor results, and was sent to the bullpen after 8 starts. He ended up making 53 appearances for the Jays, with a record of 5-3, 4.17 and his first big league save, pitching 82 innings.

He became a free agent after the 2014 season and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers. However, he was released at the end of spring training in 2015 and a few days later joined the Philadelphia Phillies. After a few games in AAA with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, he was called up to the majors and pitched as a reliever. He had a particularly difficult outing on June 16th, when he took over for Jerome Williams in the middle of a six-run 1st inning in a game against the Baltimore Orioles. Taking one for the team, he ended up giving up 7 runs in 3 1/3 innings, including 5 home runs. The Orioles set a team record with 8 home runs in that game, while he tied the all-time record for most homers allowed by a relief pitcher.

McGowan was named the winner of the Hutch Award in 2016.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Joe Frisaro: "McGowan named 2016 Hutch Award winner: Honor bestowed upon player who exemplifies fighting spirit, competitive desire", mlb.com, December 15, 2016. [1]

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