Toronto Blue Jays: Top Starting Pitching Debuts
9. Ricky Romero – April 9, 2009 – Win – 6IP | 7H | 2ER | 2B | 5K
The Blue Jays used one of their highest picks the club ever had when they took Ricky Romero sixth overall in the 2005 MLB Draft. Being such a high draft pick, Romero was watched closely throughout his years in the minor leagues, and while he wasn’t dominant he continued to climb and made his debut on April 9, 2009 when he made the team out of Spring Training. His first start came against the Detroit Tigers who would go on to finish one game back from winning the Central Division that season.
Romero did not look to be intimidated whatsoever when he took the mound as he needed just nine pitches to have a 1-2-3 first inning. In the second inning, Romero would show some perseverance; after walking Miguel Cabrera and allowing a single to Carlos Guillen he would battle. Romero would get Brandon Inge to ground into a double play and then follow that up with striking out Matt Treanor. Romero would struggle in the third inning as he allowed four consecutive hits with two outs which saw a pair of runs come in to score. However, Romero would have fairly smooth sailing for the next three innings, as he did not allow another run. He turned the game over to the bullpen in the seventh inning with a 4-2 lead, which they held for his first career win.
Romero was a dominant pitcher during his first three seasons with the Blue Jays posting a 42-29 record with a 3.60 ERA which included being an All-Star in 2011 and finishing with votes for the AL Cy Young. However, something happened to his health after that season and he lost his control, which led to him leading the league with 105 walks in 2012. After starting the 2013 with an 11.05 ERA over four games he was released by the Blue Jays with almost three years and $22.5 million left on his contract.
8. Dustin McGowan – July 30, 2005 – No Decision – 5IP | 2H | 1 ER | 3BB | 6K
The Blue Jays drafted Dustin McGowan out of Long County High School (Georgia) in the supplemental first round of the 2000 MLB Draft as compensation for losing Graeme Lloyd. He was a high school pitcher he took more seasoning in the minor leagues before making his major league debut, and as such it was just over five years before he made his first appearance for the Blue Jays.
McGowan would make his debut in late July of 2005 against the Texas Rangers, who had an identical 52-50 record as the Toronto Blue Jays. Like many first-time pitchers, McGowan showed a lot of nerves to start the game as he walked the first two batters he faced, however, he was able to retire the next three to get out of the inning. The offence spotted him a 2-0 lead after the first inning which McGowan would not relinquish. He did give up a single run in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Rod Barajas. McGowan would go on to pitch five innings and always seemed to have runners on, but battled out of it each time. Unfortunately, after leaving the game Jason Frasor came in the sixth inning and allowed a pair of runs and the Blue Jays would go on to lose the game 3-2.
McGowan would stick with the club for the remainder of the season, however, after allowing 30 earned runs over his next six appearances (29.1 IP) he was moved to the bullpen after a September 1 start. In the bullpen he would allow just one run over 11 innings and six appearances. McGowan would remain in Toronto for nine years after his debut, but was always battling injuries and inconsistency. He always seemed to be one step away from becoming a dominant pitcher but never got there. McGowan would leave in free agency after the 2014 season.