Bowden Francis melts down in first career start, but he’s earned another shot

Maybe not exactly the start Francis had envisioned, but the Jays should give him another chance

Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros
Toronto Blue Jays v Houston Astros / Logan Riely/GettyImages

After seven years of hard work and determination in his professional baseball career, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Bowden Francis finally made his first ever MLB start against the Houston Astros on Monday night. In the end, it had turned out to be a night that’s worth remembering, but for all the wrong reasons.

Perhaps it was the nerves that got to Francis early, as things quickly unraveled for him right from the get-go. Francis promptly gave up three hits and two home runs to the first five batters he faced and was down 3-0 before he even knew what hit him. The only consolation to the disastrous first inning was the fact that he still managed to strike out the side, which included the likes of Yordan Alvarez, Alex Bergman and José Abreu.

Things didn’t get any better the next inning as Francis would yield his third long ball to Jeremy Peña. But he began to settle down after that and battled through to last beyond five innings before running into some more trouble in the sixth, ending his night. In total, he gave up seven earned runs on 10 hits in just 5.1 innings pitched. Definitely not the ideal start that he had envisioned after finally getting the distinct opportunity to prove that he can be a legitimate starter in the big leagues.

However, there were a few positives to take away from his otherwise dismal season debut. Francis did manage to keep his pitches in and around the strike zone, with 61 of his 79 pitches being strikes. In addition, he struck out seven Astros’ players while walking only one batter, so his command and control was actually great. He just needed to locate his pitches a little better so that not everything falls into the zone.

We also have to remember that Francis put up a stellar 2023 season in which he compiled a 1.73 ERA and 0.83 WHIP with 35 strikeouts in 36.1 innings pitched coming out of the bullpen. On top of that, he posted a strong spring training, pitching to a solid 3.38 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in four starts. So he didn’t just forget how to pitch overnight. As a result, just all of those facts alone, he should deserve another chance to redeem himself in his next start now that he has all the jitters shaken out of him in the process.

But in reality, that wasn’t even the worse thing to happen to the Jays on Monday night, as they ended up getting no-hit 10-0 by the Astros by none other than … Ronel Blanco? So Francis won’t need to worry too much about the spotlight being on him since apparently there was much more other things to worry for the Jays on this night.