We’ve been following Dustin McGowan’s story as he attempts a long-awaited return to the majors over the last couple of months, and while most of the journey has involved the hard-throwing righty passing each test with flying colours, these things are never without its share of bumps. On Sunday night, McGowan was hit hard for the first time since his return to professional ball.
Facing the New Britain Rock Cats, McGowan was unable to replicate the success of his first pair of starts in AA that saw him throw a combined 8 scoreless innings on just 5 hits and 3 walks with 7 strikeouts. The 29-year old more than doubled his hits allowed in the one outing, giving up 5 runs on 6 hits, while striking out none. The walks weren’t much of an issue, with McGowan only giving up one walk during his start (although that runner did eventually come around to score), and a lot of the damage came in courtesy of a 2-run shot from Joe Benson.
The homer was just the first that McGowan has allowed in 27 innings, which I think says more about how good his stuff has been since beginning this step of his rehab than anything. There is a major difference between the levels of play, however, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone for starts like these to happen a couple more times before McGowan is ready for the big leagues. For now, this shouldn’t change anything about McGowan’s schedule. He is expected to make 3-4 more starts to work his pitch count up in AA, and may well end up skipping AAA altogether in the whole process when the Blue Jays are expected to call him up in September.