Dustin McGowan takes the hill later tonight against the Orioles in his fourth start of the season. If you told me at the beginning of last season that Dustin McGowan would be in the starting rotation of the 2014 Blue Jays I probably would've laughed or cried or some combination of both. But here he is and that makes me really happy.
Things have gone decently for him. Three starts, an ERA of 4.85 and a FIP of 4.66. But...(there's always a but)... what's perhaps not so encouraging are Dustin's K and BB per 9 IP rates, which sit at a Trachselian 5.54 and 4.15, respectively.
Meanwhile, down in Buffalo Marcus Stroman continues to impress. Even counting Monday's loss against Pawtucket where he gave up four runs (one unearned), Stroman has posted a phenomenal K to BB ratio. He's averaging 11.32 Ks/9 with just 2.61 BBs/9. His ERA in the International League is 2.18 while his FIP sits at a paltry 1.87.
With McGowan, Steamer and ZiPS projections are pretty much in line in terms of expected WAR for the rest of the season (0 and -0.1 respectively) but differ on innings (50 and 107). Either way, they both project replacement level production from McGowan and there hasn't been anything in his first three starts to really counter that and suggest he can recapture his 2007-2008 glory.
So the question begs: if the Jays hope to contend in 2014, isn't it time to put their best rotation together?
If McGowan bombs tonight against the Orioles or is even middling, Stroman's call-up would seem to be a no-brainer given that two important considerations have been taken care of. Firstly, Stroman's developmental success: a scouting consensus that developed during last year's Arizona Fall League that Stroman was ready for MLB has been reinforced by his remarkable success at AAA. Secondly, contract status: by virtue of the fact that it's now late April, the Jays have gained another year of control over their young hurler.
How would the Blue Jays accommodate Stroman on the roster? Well, Alex Anthopolous should do something he should've done at last year's trade deadline: move a reliever (or two). The simplest but most painful (and unfair) thing would be to DFA or release McGowan. I think that's unlikely to happen. So, given the fact that JA Happ, has received so little confidence from the front office in his tenure in Toronto, he should really be traded or released. Perhaps the Jays could package Happ with another reliever for something slightly more than zero but that may be expecting too much.
What do you guys think? Is it time to call up Stroman? Do you think he's ready? How long should the Jays go with McGowan if he continues to put up replacement level (or worse) innings?