The Mockingbird

Kids These Days

with 9 comments

mcgowan.jpg

McGowan and Janssen both pitched well in their first game of the year, which lead to an article in the Globe today in which Gibbons revealed that even the umps were impressed by McGowan last year:

“I don’t know how many times it happened but I’ll guarantee you it was five or six times, when you take him out of the game, the umpire would walk over as I’m coming off the field and say, ‘You know, this kid has got some kind of arm,'”

Not only were they in love with Dusty, but they gave him presents all season. McGowan had about 1 extra call per game go his way over the season (the complete list for pitchers is here). That may not sound like a lot, but over 27 games it would save him about 4 runs [(27 calls)*(.14 runs/pitch; for a explanation of runs/pitch, there’s a good explanation of linear weights in that Hardball Times article I mentioned the other day], without which his ERA would have risen from 4.08 to 4.27.

I know, talking about about 1/5 of a run per game is kind of lame when the kid throws 98 on a regular basis and has the kind of offspeed stuff you might name a child after. But it’s interesting that they gave him the benefit of the doubt when most power pitchers tend to get the shaft, while it’s usually guys like the Doc who get the call (more in this old post).

My turn to gush

I’m going to put this prediction in print because with all the talk about him being a #2 soon, a dark horse Cy Young, etc, someone else is going to say it first: Dustin McGowan will pitch in the All-Star game this year. Heck, he doesn’t even have to improve much over last year after his first 4 starts (when he really should still have been in AAA- hey, J.P. was right about taking it slow *cough* Lind *cough*).

McGowan didn’t just figure out how to throw his pitches in 2007, he figured out how to pitch. In the Globe article, he mentions a start when he figured out he had to stop picking at corners. To me, another big moment was when he came out without his good Curveball one start and got rocked because he refused to throw it. Hitters sat on his fastball and Zaun and Gibbons publicly chewed him out. Then a couple of starts later he couldn’t hit a barn door with it once again, but didn’t shake it off when Zaun called for it and managed to keep batters guessing enough to put up a quality (if not incredible) start.

There was an interview with Halladay during his Cy Young season when he said (numbers made up but close) that about 5-6 games a year all his pitches are perfect from the get-go, and it doesn’t matter who he’s facing, nobody is going to touch him. Another 10-12, he’s got most of his stuff working and it’s all about having a plan and putting a good game together. Then another 8-10 or so he’s got one good pitch and another that comes and goes that he can work with.

The rest of the time he’s got absolutely nothing out there and has to figure out how to fake his way through a complete start. To me, that’s the difference between a pitcher and a thrower, a phenom (*cough* Burnett *cough*) and an ace, and even a glimpse of Dusty developing that ability last year is enough to start planning statues in his honour.

Written by halejon

March 2, 2008 at 5:25 am

Posted in Seriousness

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  1. On the runs per call in his favour saved you have to divide it by .7 – I think it works better with prime numbers or something. Lol…

    He’s definetly the #2 from my perspective heading into the season, and I think he’s got a decent shot of outproducing the Doc. The big thing for him is like you said, using all his pitches, and even more importantly, not losing his cool and overthrowing when runners were on. Early on against the Phils (an “ok” lineup) he no-hit them till the 5th – once he gave up a hit he couldn’t get anybody out cause he kept overthrowing. That kinda stuff held him back, and now he can get through it.

    Twitchy

    March 2, 2008 at 4:32 pm

  2. Pretty soon we’re going to start hearing about McGowan’s travels with his blue ox, Babe. As much as I love the dude, singing his praises now is kind of like going to Prague for the first time in 2008…

    Anyone know when Purcey’s scheduled to get some ST innings? It would be nice if he was out today with the game televised.

    johnny was

    March 2, 2008 at 5:03 pm

  3. Are you having fun with me or is that 0.7 actually for some reason? I just pulled .14 out of my own tinkering with something similar to those numbers weighted by count for the average pitch.

    Shhhhhh….nobody wants to mention/admit that the Doc is on the decline (Cy decline that is) and our version of Nuke LaLoosh is probably a better pitcher now that he’s turned the corner. Because we love him. And ripped him off.

    Yah, it was kind of maddening when those games were happening at the start of the year where he was amazing and then pulled a Stottlemyre once anything went wrong, and then really interesting to see him get over it. Gives a whole new dimension to what it takes to be ready for the big time. You know how some guy will be dominating and the peanut gallery is screaming why he hasn’t been promoted because nobody can hit his stuff. Well that’s why- he was putting up sick numbers in AAA and still clearly not ready. Of course maybe he never would have got the confidence without being thrown into the fire and coming out the other side, but he just as easily could have crashed and burned and cried and asked to go back to the bullpen again.😉

    halejon

    March 2, 2008 at 5:06 pm

  4. Ah, great. You’re telling me it’s passe already? Even super-super-superlatives? FUCK. I liked it so much better last year when you couldn’t find more than a whisper that he might still be a big league pitcher someday.

    Hey, did anyone ever run into that guy who used to troll every message boards in the city talking about how he was never going to be anything but a 7th starter? I have it in writing that he owes me $200 bucks if McGowan is up and Litsch is down at any point this year. I am SO spending that money…;)

    I heard somewhere Purcey was in the mix today. I guess that’s where the money is now.

    halejon

    March 2, 2008 at 5:15 pm

  5. McGowan is definitely a lesson for Purcey, when McGowan wasn’t developing as fast as folks thought he would/should, people were clamoring for the Jays to trade him or to stick his fastball/slider combo in the bullpen and be done with it. But the Jays persistence in using McGowan as a starter paid off, obviously. I think the same could be true with Purcey. Already last season we were hearing about how he might be eventually consigned to the bullpen anyway, so why not do it sooner than later. I know Purcey is, what, 26, and has never pitched above AA, but pitchers have much more variable development curves than hitters, so I think it pays to give Purcey a full season of starts at AAA before even thinking about using him in the pen. Of course, if he performs well at AAA, there would be nothing wrong with the Jays calling him up to the big league bullpen, with the ultimate designs on eventually making him a starter. I just wouldn’t use him in the pen in the minors.

    hugo

    March 2, 2008 at 6:43 pm

  6. And it’s not that he’s been mediocre as a starter- he’s started out fantastic and then been terrible/injured every season. People look at his numbers and figure he doesn’t have the stuff when it’s very much the same sort of issues McGowan was having.

    That brief move of McGowan to the pen in the minors was a real disappointment for me. A kid gets rushed to the big leagues where he gets knocked around, loses faith in himself, and says maybe he’d be more comfortable as a reliever- and you agree with him.

    halejon

    March 2, 2008 at 8:12 pm

  7. That anti-McGowan troll is pretty much on EVERY Jays baseball board in existence. I would be curious to know his real name if he pays you by cheque…

    johnny was

    March 2, 2008 at 8:56 pm

  8. Not just Jays boards, actually…he was really branching out for a while- hockey (had a thing for Carlo Coliaccovo as well), soccer, you name it. I know his name from his emails but I think I’ll save the public pillorying for if he doesn’t keep up his end of the bargain. I guess I should have posted my conflict of interest before I got all pro-Janssen making the rotation.

    halejon

    March 2, 2008 at 9:08 pm

  9. That wasn’t a Globe article, it was a CP article that lots of papers picked up.

    Torgen

    March 3, 2008 at 6:37 am


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