Adam Loewen and Dustin McGowan: Which Blue Jays Comeback is More Impressive?
Thursday September 15, 2011
April Whitzman (Blue Jays Writer- MLB reports): Toronto Blue Jays fans have been asked a plethora of difficult questions this season, but none have been as tough as the following: Whose recent comeback is more impressive – Dustin McGowan’s or that of Adam Loewen?
When I was first tasked with writing this article, it was a question that I asked myself continually. Every time I responded, my answer would change. Comparable to many fans I spoke to, September 5th was a day in Blue Jays history that I will never forget. Dustin McGowan, after having three surgeries, and spending over three years away from the majors, got the call-up to return to the big leagues. I was excited for him that day and can only imagine how he must have been feeling on his return.
The same excitement McGowan felt playing in the majors, must have been shared by Adam Loewen. A former high draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles, Loewen was forced to change positions from pitcher to the outfield. Loewen could have quit baseball all together; however he didn’t, as he changed positions, and chose to sign with the Blue Jays as an outfielder. Although the Orioles tried to re-sign their once star pitching prospect, Loewen chose to sign with the Jays and begin his three-year journey back to the majors. Canadian born, Loewen chose to sign with the Jays as the team he grew up cheering for. As luck would have it, two days after Dustin McGowan’s return to the big leagues, Adam Loewen would be called up to the Blue Jays to make his triumphant return as well.
PRIOR TO INJURY
Prior to their injuries and subsequent recoveries, both players left the majors on a high. Dustin McGowan made 19 starts in 2008, accumulating a record of 6-7 with 4.37 ERA. Comparatively, in 2006, reaching the major league level at the age of 22, Loewen also made 19 starts, recording a 6-6 record with a 5.37 ERA. Injuries, however, soon took their toll. Dustin McGowan would endure a torn rotator cuff, a torn labrum, and torn cartilage in his left knee. Loewen, on the other hand, experienced a stress fracture to his pitching elbow.
MINOR LEAGUE JOURNEY
Dustin McGowan began his journey back to the majors July 2011, when he was back pitching in the minor leagues with the Dunedin Blue Jays. In seven games, he recorded a 0-2 record with a 2.87 ERA in 15.2 innings pitched, holding opponents to a 228 batting average. After a great performance with Dunedin, he was next sent to double-A. Through five starts with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, McGowan saw both an increase in workload and results, including a record of 0-2 and a 2.47 ERA in 19.2 innings.
Loewen started out in high-A Dunedin in 2009 and hit .236 with 4 HR and 31RBI with .695 OPS in 335 at-bats. Last year, in AA New Hampshire he had a .246 average, but the power numbers improved, as the former Oriole belted 13 homers and drove in 70 runs, while posting an OPS of .763. After the Fisher Cats were eliminated from the Eastern League playoffs, he also worked on his plate discipline and power in the Arizona Fall League. This year, Loewen has proven that all of his hard work as part of his journey has been worth it. In the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, Loewen hit .308, with 17 home runs and picked up 84 RBIs. Most impressive was his .888 OPS.
SINCE MLB CALL-UP
On September sixth, against the Boston Red Sox, McGowan threw four innings, surrendering three runs on five hits. While he surrendered three walks, he also struck out five, the majority of them coming off his fastball, which was consistently hitting the mid 90s. During his first start in the MLB since 2008, on September 11th against the Baltimore Orioles, McGowan’s plate consistency wavered. He pitched three innings, allowing four earned runs, on three hits and five walks. He is presently sporting a 9.00 ERA in two games played.
BC native Adam Loewen made his first appearance with the Blue Jays the day after McGowan, on September 7th. In his first big league appearance as an outfielder Loewen went 1-3 with a run scored. His best game came September 11th, (also a McGowan Start) versus Baltimore, where he went 2-3, with a home run, which he belted to centerfield. However, many presume that Tuesday’s game against Boston, where Loewen went 0-4 with two strikeouts was his worst game thus far in a Blue Jays uniform. Yet, I would like to point out, Loewen made a stupendous catch over the centerfield wall during that game to rob a home run away from the Red Sox, which in my eyes made up for the poor day at the plate. The young Canadian is presently sporting a .300 average with three hits, two runs and a home run, with no walks and four strikeouts.
Both Adam Loewen and Dustin McGowan have come a long way since their respective career threatening injuries during the middle part of the decade. Each player symbolizes the heart and hustle motto that the Toronto Blue Jays have been preaching this year, as neither ever thought of quitting the game despite adversity. The determination Loewen and McGowan have each shown in wanting to come back to Major League Baseball has also been extremely impressive. Despite the small sample of success each has shown this month, I would suggest that both could be integral parts to a Blue Jays playoff run in the non-too-distant future. Thus, returning back to the central question of whose return was more impressive… I would have to say – - both.
What’s your opinion on the returns of Loewen and McGowan? You can comment below, reach us by email at MLBreports@gmail.com and you can add me on twitter at @Alleycat17. I look forward to hearing from you!
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