So yesterday, a deal for a reliever that could have worked out quite well for the Toronto Blue Jays fell through. As of right now, we’ve yet to hear just why Ronald Belisario will not be playing in Toronto. However, this deal and its collapse has left me with one question: Why is Dustin McGowan still unemployed?!
The Blue Jays were willing to sign a minor league deal that would have paid Belisario well over $1M if he made the big league club. My question is why would they go after him with that kind of deal and leave Dusty McG waiting in free agency?
Belisario is 32 and had a 2014 season that saw him produce a 5.56 ERA and 10.6 hits per 9 innings in 66 innings. He was, um, not very good last year. Sure, there are some things that one could take away from his 2014 that would make you think his deal was a good one. His 18 walks out of the bullpen would make Blue Jays fans excited given the control from the bullpen over the last couple years. But, 78 hits in 66 innings means he is certainly in the strike zone…too much.
Now, Dustin McGowan? He’s also 32. But, that’s about where the comparison ends. We all remember how he struggled as a starter. But, when he was moved to the bullpen, his ERA was 3.35 in 43 innings. Before we suggest that there is a big difference in starting and the bullpen, we must remember that he faced practically the same number of batters- 178 as a starter vs 176 as a reliever. Opponents hit .213 against him out of the bullpen. The move to the bullpen allowed him to increase his strikeout totals to 36. He had 25 as a starter.
As a reliever, McGowan put up numbers that are worthy of a job heading into 2015. His WHIP sat at 1.16 and he left 82.5% of runners on base. From the ’pen, he was able to increase his ground ball rate, decrease his fly ball rate and his line drive rate. The only issue was that his HR rate increased.
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In moving Dustin McGowan to the bullpen, the Blue Jays created a middle relief option out of a failing starting option. McGowan’s issues as a diabetic certainly impacted his ability to maintain his energy as a start progressed. He would run out of steam as the game wore on. When he went to the bullpen, the number of pitches he threw went from 1040 to 356. His fastball sat at 94mph. The above results show that the workload of a bullpen role allow McGowan to be at his best.
There has not been any mention of Dustin McGowan at all this off season; not from a Blue Jays perspective, not from any club. What is going on? Is he holding out for a starter’s job? Given his health history, etc. he can’t expect that to work out well for him. Has he not had an offer to fill a bullpen role.
This offseason, all we’ve heard is that the Blue Jays are looking everywhere, under every stone, up every tree to find bullpen help. They should be looking in their own yard. This club has stuck with Dustin McGowan for almost 15 years through injury after injury. They even extended him (AS A STARTER!) while he was injured. Now that it appears that he is healthy and found a role he can be successful in, why are they leaving him out in the cold?
It is a head scratcher to think the Blue Jays agreed to the type of deal they did with Belisario when Dustin McGowan would almost certainly agree to the same. The club already paid him $500K to buy him out. So, what is there to lose by offering a Belisario type deal? A minor league deal with a possible big league price tag if he makes the club is a win-win for the club. If the Blue Jays are indeed desperate for an arm, they have one that they are very familiar with. Unless they know something we don’t.