The Blue Jays have aligned minor league pitcher Marcus Stroman's next outing with Dustin McGowan's next scheduled start for the major league team. Toronto manager John Gibbons reportedly prefers McGowan as a reliever, and if the change in schedule is any indication, Stroman will be promoted to Toronto sooner rather than later.
With McGowan and Stroman in sync, the Jays can keep their most MLB-ready pitching prospect queued up for the foreseeable future. Gibbons said McGowan will still pitch on Tuesday in Kansas City -- his next scheduled start -- according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi.
McGowan, 32, has pitched 23 innings so far this year, posting a 5.87 ERA while striking out 15 and walking 10. He's had moderate success out of the bullpen in his career, most notably in 2013 when he pitched to a 2.45 ERA in 25⅔ innings. However, this season he's allowing nearly a half a baserunner more per inning than he did last year.
Stroman, 23, broke out last year at Double-A New Hampshire. In 20 starts, he put up a 3.30 ERA and struck out over 10 batters per nine innings. He's excelling again this season. In five starts for Triple-A Buffalo, Stroman has a 1.69 ERA and is whiffing more than 12 hitters per nine and has walked just seven in 26⅔ innings.
He's relatively small pitcher at 5'9", but that didn't keep him from being ranked at number 27 overall on Baseball Prospectus' preseason top 101 prospects list. He also drew a Tom Gordon comparison from FanGraphs' Marc Hulet.
Toronto is currently 12-15 and three-and-a-half games back in the AL East. Their rotation ranks tenth in the AL in starter ERA -- 23rd in baseball -- so they could use an impactful arm like Stroman's. If McGowan can return to his 2013 bullpen form, the Jays could kill two birds with one stone -- their bullpen ranks 13th in the AL with a 5.08 ERA as a unit.