Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Myth of Dustin McGowan

Let me preface this entire article with this: I want this guy to succeeed. I was a really big fan.

But, at some point, when should we take a step back and realize that Dustin McGowan is never going to contribute to any Blue Jays success going forward. It just isn't happening. I read a lot of other Blogs and message boards, and his name is tossed around as though he is some hidden gem in the Jays system. So, I thought I'd take a closer look:

Dustin McGowan was drafted 33rd overall by the Blue Jays in the 2000 draft, out of high school He worked his way through the system as both a reliever and a starter (I'm sure that this has something to do with his injury problems, this is a VERY poor example of player development. Also see: Brandon Morrow) McGowan made his debut for the Jays in June 2005, as a reliever, but couldn't stick with the club. He bounced back and forth between AAA and the Majors until 2007, when he was allwed to become a full time starter. He was called up for the last time in May of that season and posted a 12-10 record. As a top prospect, this was a very promising start to his career, which included his most famous performance: The one-hitter against the Colorado Rockies.

In July of 2008, he was forced to leave a game due to shoulder pain. It was later revealed that he had fraying of his Labrum in his throwing shoulder. Surgery was required. While rehabbing, he injured his knee. More surgery. He appeared to be healthy again approaching the 2010 season, but toward the end of spring training, he experienced "dead-arm." After trying varios rehab techniques to rebuild velocity without success, McGowan and the team began searching for medical explainations: Torn Rotator cuff. More Surgery.

To summarize: in the last 2 years, Dustin McGowan has had 3 Major reconstructive surgeries. I have not, to this point mentioned that he is also diabetic, which impedes his body's ability to recover quickly.

Many people believe that it is only a matter of him recovering his health to regain his previos form. The list of Major League Pitchers who have succesfully returned from Labrum surgery is very short. The most famous being Chris Carpenter, who the Jays let get away, and it is still haunting the Jays' fanbase. Curt Schilling also had success after a labral repair, and Roger Clemons did as well (though he may have had help.) The list of failed recoveries is much, much longer.

The situation is further compounded by the subsequent surgeries to his knee and rotator cuff. These can only serve to compound the problem.

And further: Even if McGowan were to return to form, what then? At best, he might be in the discussion to be a 5th starter (see what I did there?) If his stamina is an issue, he may be an option as a reliever. But let's look further: Over parts of 4 Major League seasons, McGowan is 20-22, with a 4.85 ERA, and a 1.375 WHIP. These are hardly numbers that are inspiring. His entire body of work may qualify as "passable" but on a team that is building to become a perrenial contender, this well below what is required.

It appears to me that Dustin McGowan has become a Fairy Tale. He had potential, but thanks to injuries and mis-management, he will likely never realize any of it in Toronto.


  1. More you like his mutton-chop sideburns?

  2. I agree, over time we fans have elevated him. Until this year, many fans assumed he would come back and be at least the number 2. Sad, but probably not gonna happen.

    I wonder what Mike Sirotka is up to these days.

  3. Or Mark Prior, Matt Clement, Chad Cordero... Even Eric Bedard and Brandon Webb... It's an UGLY injury...