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Preview: All Eyes on McGowan on Royal Visit

Stock_McGowan02Dustin McGowan (1-1, 6.88) makes would could possibly be his final start as a Blue Jay when Toronto begins it’s three-game series against the Kansas City Royals (8:10 ET, Sportsnet). The Jays have quietly let it be known that they’ve juggled the rotation in AAA Buffalo to align prospect Marcus Stroman with McGowan. Stroman starts tonight for the Bisons at home against Louisville. If McGowan falters tonight, and Stroman continues to pitch well, it’s possible the youngster could find his way into the rotation as early as this weekend in Pittsburgh.

McGowan, for his part, will be making his first start since admitting that he’s been experiencing fatigue around the 60-65 pitch mark. It’s not all that surprising, considering it’s been about six years since he’s been asked to routinely pass that threshold. He also was rushed into being stretched out in spring training, thanks in part to a 10-day bout with the flu. That’s a bad idea for most pitchers, but even moreso for one with such an extensive injury history.

McGowan also revealed that he believes the source of his fatigue stems from his diabetes. TSN’s Scott MacArthur wrote about it in more detail here. It’s an interesting take on the problem, and one has to believe that McGowan might be better suited for shorter stints out of the bullpen, both for the sake of his arm, and his overall health.

So while the Georgia native battles the Royals (weather permitting – like Toronto, Kansas City is getting rain at the time of writing), Stroman will look to continue his pursuit of a big-league job. We’ll have updates on Stroman’s start throughout the night on the JaysBalk twitter account.

(And in case you missed it, we discussed on the podcast this weekend why we think bringing Stroman up right now is not a good idea. Give it a listen.)

On the other side of the ball, the Jays had another “turning the corner offensively” moment with a couple of late-inning rallies in Sunday’s 7-1 win over Boston. Here’s the lineup charged with keeping the momentum going.

Blue Jays 04/29 (12-13)
OBP HR RBI
SS 7 Jose Reyes .237 1 4
LF 53 Melky Cabrera .368 5 9
RF 19 Jose Bautista .464 7 17
1B 10 Edwin Encarnacion .327 1 12
C 30 Dioner Navarro .333 1 14
DH 47 Juan Francisco .375 2 3
3B 13 Brett Lawrie .233 6 20
CF 28 Colby Rasmus .242 4 7
2B 39 Chris Getz .000 0 0
ERA W L
P 29 Dustin McGowan 6.88 1 1

They’ll be going up against lefty Jason Vargas (2-0, 1.54), who has been very good so far this season. His most recent start lasted “only” six innings. I say only, because each of his other four appearances went at least seven. Is that even legal? As someone who follows the Blue Jays on a daily basis, I’m seriously questioning if that is even allowed to happen. Anyways, Vargas hasn’t given up more than two earned runs in any start this season. So, yeah. Should be a fun one.

I don’t want to end the post as a Negative Nelly, so I’ll throw out that there *were* some good signs on Sunday against a tough pitcher. Jose Bautista reached base again, making it 25 consecutive games to start the season. Melky Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion and Brett Lawrie each had two hits, and that’s significant. Cabrera has been one of the league’s most consistent hitters, while Lawrie and EE appear to be rounding into form. Pete wrote about them in his post-game wrap on Sunday, using some arbitrary end points to outline their progress, and it’s worth another look if you want to check it out. Point is, two key cogs to the offensive machine are starting to put together some positive, progressive at bats. Now they just need Jose Reyes to get on base ahead of them a little more.

And he’s got a new double play partner tonight! Chris Getz make his Blue Jays debut, and will be the FIFTH different second baseman used by the Blue Jays this season. Wow.

As always, don’t forget to follow on Twitter.

@jaysbalk
@di_nic

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