Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dustin McGowan -- Total Recall

One of the most tiresome questions of spring has become: Who will replace the innings of Marcum, McGowan, and the other guy? I continually come back to something ever-present commenter and Jays superfan Torgen said months ago: McGowan will replace his own innings. All 111 that he pitched last year. Even if he doesn't start until June, he'll have three months to make up that lost time. The question the three-boobed hooker demands answered is a simple one: when McGowan returns, will he be a mild-mannered Quaid or criminal mastermind Hauser?

Dustin McGowan, we've all seen, has a dazzling repertoire of pitches yet hasn't registered the results we should expect. His plus fastball averages over 94 mph for his career, his slider/curve/changeup combination should miss many bats, but he's been a 4.00 FIP pitcher during his starting career. (A 4.00 FIP isn't awful by any stretch, I'd say it equates nicely to a 2/3 level starter.) He's never quite been able to put it all together, aside from the second half of 2007. Even then, a few interesting things stick out:What does this tell us? For one, wins are horseshit and ERA paints a tiny corner of a giant picture. Secondly, it tells us what we knew already: Dustin McGowan cruises, cruises, cruises...explodes. That was always the rap on him before 2007, and it seemed to hold true in 2008.

The other problem McGowan had is similar to the challenges facing David Purcey, wildness in and out of the strike zone. Too many walks some days, but he can battle with his excellent stuff. Few walks other days, but a couple misplaced breaking pitches leave the yard and his day is done quickly.

So what was the point of this whole thing in the first place? Ah yes, Dustin McGowan wasn't that great in 2008, not quite irreplaceable anyway. David Purcey and McGowan are very similar pitchers, and The M-Bird pointed out last year. Same age, similar K numbers, similar fly ball tendencies, sadly familiar walk rates. Eventually they project around two thirds of a run differently, the edge going to McGowan.

So we can bemoan the loss of McGowan for most of the first half, but let's remember he missed just as much of 2008, and when he stuck around he didn't dominate as we'd like. A guy like Purcey can stand in nicely for McGowan's heartbreaking ways.


  1. Now I wish I had a blog for you to link to when you say nice things about me.

  2. I feel better after reading this. Thank you, Lloyd. You're doing the Lord's work.

  3. But where is Cecil in all of this?!

    Arguably in August of 2007, McGowan was pitching in response to the lineup around him which provided a paltry (criminal, even) 2.6 runs per game of support. Compare this with the 5.6 runs per he was getting in July of that same year and that would also help to explain the ever bullshit W-L record.

    The point as I take it is you would rather have August 2007 McGowan before all others?

  4. But who will replace McGowan's vast array of interesting facial hair styles???

  5. August 07 McGowan is as good as he's been, but not as good as he gets. He can do a pretty good 08 Burnett impression by trying to do a good Halladay impression.

    Like how any accent I affect for comedy's sack quickly devolves into my exceptional French Canadian impression. It's uncanny, yet utterly pointless. Like this comment!

  6. comedy's sake. For the LOLs, for the kids.

  7. I think people see McGowan's fastball and wonder how we could ever win without it.

  8. There was a brief (very brief) time when McGowan and Phil Hughes were inseparable in comparative statements because of their stuff. Now they're sort of inseparable because of the injuries and the sucking.

    Is it bad I was able to follow around Lloyd's logic on the first try in his Burnett/Halladay/impression-riddled comment?


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