Dustin McGowan’s three-year journey back to the big leagues was completed Tuesday with a four-inning relief appearance and now the Blue Jays have decided to give him a start for the first time since July 8, 2008.
McGowan didn’t exactly dominate in his return outing, allowing eight baserunners and three runs in four innings against the Red Sox, but he’ll get the nod versus the Orioles on Sunday. That last start in mid-2008? Also against Baltimore.
Given his various setbacks and surgeries over the years it seems natural to see if McGowan can stay healthy in the bullpen, where plenty of former starters find new life as dominant late-inning options, but apparently the Blue Jays aren’t ready to write him off as a rotation option yet. John Farrell indicated that McGowan will be on a pitch count of 80 or so and he’s bumping Luis Perez from the rotation.
Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.
Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.
Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.