The Winding Dusty Trail Back for McGowan

Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures

Some may have said Dustin McGowan didn’t have the chops to make it back to the major leagues. After injuries sidelined him for over three years, the easy thing to do would’ve been to throw in the towel and walk away. McGowan didn’t.

There was something very special about watching Dustin McGowan’s long-awaited return to the mound last night. At the time, it felt so surreal to watch someone who I admittedly though would never pitch in the bigs ever again.

It was if we were transported back to 2008; a year in which the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation comprised of Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett, Shaun Marcum, Jesse Litsch, and Dustin McGowan.


And just to show you how much the roster has changed since mid-2008, the only surviving members of the Blue Jays roster are Casey Janssen, Jesse Litsch, Adam Lind, Shawn Camp and Dustin McGowan (h/t @BFullmer_Fan).

At first glance, a 14-0 drubbing by the Boston Red Sox would be a cause for concern. But much like John McDonald’s home run on Father’s Day last year, the game itself was secondary to the moment.

It was as if Dustin McGowan just picked up where he left off in 2008. He didn’t blow away the competition by any means, but he held his own against one of the most deadly lineups in the American League. Not too shabby for your first outing back in three years.

I don’t know if it was fate or what, but had Luis Perez not been knocked out of the game, we might have seen Dustin McGowan get the chance to throw four innings. Odds were he would make an appearance, but who knew he would do the grunt of the work?

Ever since there was talk of Dustin McGowan returning to the Blue Jays, I’ve always been in favour of moving him to the bullpen. With the bevy of starters the Blue Jays have at their disposal, it didn’t seem necessary to have Dusty back in the rotation.

I think that performance last night changed a lot of people’s minds … including my own. If that is a small snippet of what McGowan can offer in a starter’s role, then maybe having him as a starter isn’t such a bad idea after all.

No matter what capacity the Blue Jays decide to use Dustin McGowan, it was just great to have him pitching again. For McGowan to overcome as many setbacks as he did over three years was nothing short of spectacular.

Plus, he brought back his patented McGowan mutton chops. I think that’s a sign he’ll do just fine from hereon out.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

4 thoughts on “The Winding Dusty Trail Back for McGowan

  • September 7, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    If Mcgowan can stay healthy a 5th starter spot is not out of the question and 5th starter may be more realistic. As the jays have a bevy of young relievers pushing for the Majors. Joel Carreno 24 has pitched 9 innings and only given up 1 earned run, that and players like Perez (26) and a 28 year old starter in Mcgowan at the minimum for couple of years is doable. The main question is can he stay healthy. Although the jays did not have faith in McGowan getting healthy did not relase or completely give up on him, so maybe a 2 year minimum contract may be do-able. I think a lot of McGowan health was because of Arnsberg trying to get pitchers to throw full velocity maybe Walton's approach may help players like McGowan to have healthier carrers.

  • September 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Psmith, the crazy thing is even after all this time, I think McGowan is still under team control for two more years. I say if all goes well next year in Spring Training and the season, then maybe a contract extension will be in order.

    But at this point, anything is gravy with Dustin McGowan. Whatever he can contribute, whether it's starting or in the bullpen is a bonus.

  • September 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Ian not trying to correct you, was not even aware he was under team controll at all after this year but checked cots and he is under controll for one more year

    may be worth locking him up for two more years, heck he is only 30 by the time next season starts and Ricky is 27 next season. If he can preform at a 5th starter level he is worth keeping because he had the ability to be a number two (sorry to those who projected him as a number one, but I always thought higher of Marcum).

  • September 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Psmith, my mistake – I always tend to read the service time numbers wrong. Looks like only one more year for McGowan under team control.

    And I'm with you … was always a big fan of Shaun Marcum (and still am!). He was a very underrated pitcher, and good to see him get some time in the spotlight with the Brew Crew.

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